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Conferees adopt report to spend $43 million more on education in fiscal year 2025

Rep. Cheryl Youakim and Sen. Mary Kunesh confer during the May 15 meeting of the education supplemental budget bill conference committee. (Photo by Andrew VonBank)
Rep. Cheryl Youakim and Sen. Mary Kunesh confer during the May 15 meeting of the education supplemental budget bill conference committee. (Photo by Andrew VonBank)

Continuing what began last year is the theme of an agreement that’d put more money toward education.

Conferees to the education supplemental budget bill adopted the conference committee report Wednesday night.

Sponsored by Rep. Cheryl Youakim (DFL-Hopkins) and Sen. Mary Kunesh (DFL-New Brighton), HF5237 would increase education spending by $43 million in fiscal year 2025.

[MORE: View the financial spreadsheet]

“We did do a lot with this bill,” Youakim said. “But, while we did a lot last year, I think this year, by listening to our districts, and listening to our teachers, and our students, and all those around, we built on what we did last year.”

Kunesh hopes the bill will bring joy back into education.

“We’ve had two years … building an educational system that we hope and pray [is] going to pull our students out of their funk, help them regain their mental and their social health and make sure that our teachers and our administrators also have those tools that are going to make their job not only doable but enjoyable.”

Conference Committee on HF5237 5/15/24 - Part 1

In addition to K-12 provisions, conferees added portions of HF2476, which the House passed May 1 and contains provisions related to children and families, and several health and human services provisions.

Read Act

A $37 million funding bump would be directed to the Minnesota Reading to Ensure Academic Development (READ) Act, with $31.37 million allocated to complete teacher training. Signed into law in 2023 the act’s goal is to have every child reading at or above grade level every year.

Student attendance and truancy

The agreement would establish a pilot program to implement strategies to improve student attendance, and help policymakers determine how to effectively support school district efforts to improve student attendance and engagement. The program would be funded at $4.68 million in fiscal year 2025, with 12 school districts participating in the three-year program. An amendment that would add three school districts to the program with a bump in funding was adopted.

State school librarian

A state school librarian position would be created within the Department of Education. Funded by a $130,000 appropriation in fiscal year 2025,  the person would provide technical assistance, advice and guidance in academic standards development and statewide library data collection to licensed school library media specialists and licensed school librarians.

Conference Committee on HF5237 5/15/24 - Part 2

An amendment was adopted to allow $130,000 of the amount appropriated for school library aid to pay for the position beginning in fiscal year 2026.

Paying student teachers

Many aspiring teachers say the largest barrier to attaining their license is the 12-week student teaching experience with no pay.

A $6.5 million appropriation in fiscal year 2025 would be used to create a pilot program at eight teacher preparation universities and colleges to pay student teachers a stipend.

A successfully offered amendment would add one more university to the pilot program and also create a teacher and paraprofessional compensation working group funded with a one-time appropriation of $150,000.

[MORE: Conference committee begins work on supplemental education finance bill]

Other fiscal year 2025 supplemental funding includes:

  • $5 million for mentoring and retention incentive grants for teachers of color;
  • $2.76 million for Professional Educators Licensing and Standards Board for an educators online licensing system;
  • $1 million for the aspiring teachers of color scholarship program;
  • $1 million for special education apprenticeship programs;
  • $625,000 for the Minnesota Alliance with Youth promise fellows;
  • $250,000 for a one-time emergency medical training grant; and
  • $40,000 in onetime supplemental aid for the four tribal schools in Minnesota.

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