Gov. Dayton announces investment in strategies to give kids a ‘great start’ across Minnesota

By Daniel E. McGonigle

General Manager

The Caledonia Argus

“When Governor Dayton took office in 2011, he pledged to increase investments in Minnesota’s students every year he was Governor; no excuses, no exceptions,” said the governor’s media representative Sam Fettig. “Since 2011, Governor Dayton has kept that promise, working with the Minnesota Legislature to invest $1.5 billion in K-12 education. This session, the Governor’s budget would continue that progress, investing an additional $609 million in K-12 education.”

Earlier in the week, the governor detailed his proposal to grow opportunities for Minnesota kids and families across the state as part of his “Opportunity Agenda for a better Minnesota.”

Gov. Dayton’s Opportunity Agenda would provide better K-12 and early learning opportunities for students across Minnesota, and would help to support Minnesota families caring for their kids at home and in childcare.

“Governor Dayton’s Opportunity Agenda would bring over $1.3 million in essential investments for Marshall Area students, schools, families, and countless others across the state” said Marshall Schools superintendent Scott Monson. “Good education is the foundation for better opportunities and successful kids, communities, and economies across our state. I encourage legislators to take up Governor Dayton’s proposed education investments this session.”

Widespread praise

“I applaud Governor Dayton for proposing $186 million to help raise healthy kids at home and in childcare,” said Nancy Jost, Early Childhood coordinator with the West Central Initiative. “Accessing the best opportunities our state has to offer starts with a strong foundation. These investments will help more kids and families succeed across Minnesota.”

Below, see how Governor Dayton’s budget would support K-12 students and schools, early education and childcare options, and a strong start for future learners at home.”

Support for Minnesota

Students and Schools

The Opportunity Agenda for a Better Minnesota features among its highlights:

• More Funding for Every Student, Everywhere in Our State – Governor Dayton’s budget would increase per pupil funding by two percent in each of the next two years for Minnesota’s K-12 public schools. These increases would invest an additional $371 million in all Minnesota public school districts, everywhere in Minnesota.

• Investing in Aging Classrooms – All Minnesota students need a world-class education, no matter where they live. But in school districts without high-value land, the burden of paying for modern schools can fall disproportionately on just a few businesses, farms, and homeowners. That is why the Governor’s budget would invest $62 million over four years to help school districts repay school bond levies without overly-burdening farmers, businesses and other private property owners.

• Special Education – Every student deserves an excellent education, including young Minnesotans with disabilities and special needs. The Governor’s budget would invest $40 million in special education to deliver on that promise, and help school districts across Minnesota provide excellent educations for all students.

• Student Support Staff and Counselors – Governor Dayton’s budget includes $4 million to increase the number of school counselors, social workers, psychologists, and nurses in public schools. Last year, $12.1 million was provided for matching grants to 37 school districts to increase student support staff and counselors, but there was more demand than that funding could provide. The funding in this year’s budget proposal would help fund the districts that did not receive funding last year.

The program also looks to expand early education opportunities.

Last year 74 school districts benefited by $25 million in investments to begin voluntary pre-K programs.

This year, the opportunity agenda would invest $75 million.

Investments would also be made to expand access to quality child care, continue providing early learning scholarships and would also invest $61 million in the Child Care tax credit helping 95,000 Minnesota families afford quality childcare and provide $60 million in tax cuts.

Local impact

Locally the Governor’s Opportunity Agenda would benefit several districts.

Caledonia would see an additional $400,150 in new funding for 2018-19.

Houston school district would see an additional $1,033,712 in new funding for 2018-19.

La Crescent would see an additional $609,481 in funding for 2018-19. Spring Grove would have $189,639 in additional funding.

Rushford-Peterson would have an additional $359,398 in funding in 2018-19 as part of the governor’s proposal.

Houston County would have an additional 49 kids served by the increased funding of child care as well as eight additional families served by increased investment in home visiting.