By Daniel E. McGonigle
The Caledonia Argus
More than $54 million in new education funding has been enacted by the state legislature and Governor Dayton for the 2014-2015 school year.
“This new funding will benefit the state’s more than 840,000 students through increased student aid, early learning programs, nutritious breakfast and lunches and other important measures,” said Governor Mark Dayton.
Caledonia will see about an additional $33,000 and a $25 bump in per pupil aid dollars as a result of the additional funding.
“We had about $25 added onto our formula,” said Caledonia schools business manager Barb Meyer.
Our per-pupil unit is now $5,831. The state used a projected enrollment of 662 students. That number, however, is subject to fluctuate based on enrollment.
“It could change one way or the other by about 10 to 12 students,” said Meyer.
The General Fund will see an increase of $18,875 and new money for teacher evaluation will result in $14,566.
“These new investments are critical for our students to be successful,” said Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius. “With smart investments in the things that matter, we will be able to tackle our achievement gaps more effectively, help more kids get a great start in their academic career, and better support every student on his or her path to high school graduation and beyond.”
Statewide, $660 million has been invested in education from early learning to grade 12 over the last two years. Those new funds, according to the Minnesota Department of Education, are “ongoing increases that will continue to provide better resources for students and teachers into the future.”
In addition, the state paid back the $2.8 billion previously borrowed from schoools.
“We also funded 9,000 early learning scholarships, provided access to free full-day, everyday kindergarten, and significantly increased funding for every school district in Minnesota,” said Governor Dayton. “These investments will greatly improve our nation-leading education system, and help provide our students the advantages and opportunities they need to succeed in school, life and the jobs of tomorrow.”
Some of the money will now go towards providing breakfast for those students who receive free and reduced lunch. Those who’s families qualify will have their free and reduced lunch bills reduced from $.040 cents per meal to free.
“Our food service people are working to implement those changes,” said Meyer.
That portion of the help for Caledonia is estimated to be about $4,400.
Community education is also receiving about $7,000 in new monies.
Superintendent Ben Barton wasn’t yet sure just how the money would be spent.
“What you run into is you get a $15,000 increase from the state, but your insurance premiums might go up $20,000,” said Barton. “So it’s a moving target.”
Either way, the Superintendent is proud of the job he and his staff have done over the past several years in regard to bringing additional dollars into the district.
“We’ve found ways to be able to continue to offer programs to our students,” said Barton. “I think we’ve done a good job of being able to offer our students the classes they desire without having to continue to cut, cut, cut.”
Barton too is proud of the job that Meyer does on the districts behalf.
“Barb has done an excellent job on the taxpayers behalf,” said Barton. “She’s the best in the business. She does a great job getting us every dollar she can on our behalf. She’s very good at that.”