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Release: House Education Policy Committee advances additional COVID-19 student and family support

Wednesday, January 20, 2021


SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Today, the Minnesota House of Representatives advanced new legislation to help deliver additional support to Minnesota’s students, families, and schools. Measures in the bill would provide investments to community service schools, programs to address math and reading deficiencies related to the impact of COVID-19, improvement in the delivery of Special Education and trauma-related services, and school funding stabilization.  

“The pandemic has exacerbated vast inequities in how our children, especially our Black, Indigenous, and students of color, are receiving their education and school support services,” said Rep. Ruth Richardson (DFL-Mendota Heights), chair of the House Education Policy Committee. “We have a responsibility to deliver the support our students and families need now as we await widespread availability of the COVID-19 vaccine.”

The legislation would invest $2 million in full-service community schools to enhance academic opportunities, health and social services, youth and community development, and family and community engagement within the school site so that students have easier access to services that meet their needs and those of their families. The bill also provides investments in trauma informed coaching training for school staff who work with students with diverse childhood experiences. Additionally, it strengthens non-exclusionary discipline in schools, which disproportionally impacts Black, Indigenous, and children of color with disabilities.

“Our students have borne far too great a burden of the impacts of Covid-19, it is time that we as a state devote our full attention to meeting the needs of our students,” said Rep. Hodan Hassan (DFL – Minneapolis), chief author of the bill. “This legislation will provide critical resources to our education system so that every student can have an opportunity to succeed.”

The bill also addresses learning loss through re-investment in programs such as Math and Reading Corps and Ignite Afterschool, which supports students receiving instruction in hybrid or distance learning. The bill makes significant policy changes for students receiving special education services; specifically, by requiring school districts to update learning plans to prioritize safe, on-site instruction for students with Individual Education Programs (IEPs). 

Rep. Hassan’s legislation would also prevent any school district from seeing any decrease in revenue due to an anticipated temporary decease in enrollment. The bill provides funding that will allow school districts to maintain programming and staffing levels rather than needing to cut costs and then re-hire staff when those students return.

Committee members received presentations from: Scott Croonquist, Executive Director, Association of Metropolitan School Districts; Bob Indihar, Executive Director for the MN Rural Education Association; Denise Dittrich, Minnesota School Boards Association; Maren Hulden, Legal Services Advocacy Project; Julie Ruzek, District Coordinator of Family & Community Engagement; Will Ruffin, Community School Site Facilitator, Gage Elementary; Lida Casper, Community School Site Facilitator, Riverside Elementary; Jim Sporleder, Jim Sporleder Consulting, National School Trauma Responsive Trainer; Dr. Peter Nelson, Director of Research & Innovation, Serve Minnesota; Kari Denissen Cunnien, Executive Director, Ignite Afterschool;Michel Be, Youth Media Manager, KRSM+ Pillsbury United Communities at Waite House; and Louis King, North Star Network.

Materials from today’s public hearing can be found on the committee’s website.