Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Interesting Show on NPR. Krista Tippett is the hostess of the National Public Radio show "Speaking of Faith." Every now and then, she puts the spiritual side of the human condition aside and concentrates on a different subject. Last Sunday morning as I was tooling around after church, I caught her interviewing Dr. Mike Rose, a professor of education at UCLA. Rose has devoted a lot of energy to both critiquing the "testing" movement and showing how effective classrooms are fostered. I found the interview to be extremely enlightening on a number of levels and thought I would post the link here, along with a link to Dr. Rose's blog and his latest book (which was featured during the interview).

Interview with Dr. Mike Rose, "The Meaning of Intelligence": http://speakingoffaith.publicradio.org/programs/2010/meaning-of-intelligence-2/

Monday, August 30, 2010

Federal Jobs Bill Funding Coming to Minnesota. The application has been sent and the dollars will be coming. As most of you know, Congress approved $10 billion in aid to local school districts earlier in August. The Minnesota Department of Education submitted the appropriate paperwork to begin the process of distributing the $167 million--Minnesota's share of the $10 billion--to school districts (and intermediate districts and special education cooperatives) throughout the state.

The formula by which the revenue will be distributed is a bit tricky, but not all that convoluted. To determine the amount each district would receive, the state calculated the amount of state revenue distributed to districts through two basic funding formulas, the general education formula and the special education (basic and excess minus tuition amounts) formula. The amount of state aid for each district was tallied and a percentage of total state aid was determined. This percentage was then multiplied times the $167 million and the product is the amount of revenue each district will receive.

Most SEE districts will be, as expected, below the state average award amount of $206 per student (Average Daily Membership and Not Weighted Average Daily Membership) and there should be no mystery as to why. SEE districts generally fall (well below in many cases) the state average in per pupil revenue generated through the general education formula. Because this formula dictates nearly 87% of the distribution of the federal revenue, it should be no surprise that SEE districts fall where they do on the distribution spectrum. Because special education costs in the metropolitan area are higher than outside the metropolitan area, there is a bit of a bump for the metropolitan area when the special education formula is factored into the distribution. However, because transportation sparsity is much higher outside the metropolitan area, that balances out the distribution effects of the special education formula.

All levies--even the levy portion of equalized levies--are eliminated from the calculation of the distribution percentage. In other words, if you receive equalization aid, that counts as state aid for the calculation of the distribution percentage. If you no longer qualify for equalization, you get no calculation "value" from your referendum. The same goes for the equity levy, transition levy, alternative compensation levy, and total operating capital levy.

I would like to echo MASA Executive Director Charlie Kyte's comments praising MDE Assistant Commissioner Lori Grivna for her hard work on this issue. Since joining the Governor's staff last year, Grivna has done an exemplary job communicating with education groups and we were certainly in the loop on this item from the get-go thanks to her hard work.

Below is a link to the MN Post article regarding the program and a link to the MDE website with the spreadsheet describing the total revenue and per pupil amounts that districts will be receiving. It should be noted that allowable purposes for expenditure of the revenue are still being developed, but it is expected that there will be flexibility with these dollars provided they go for the intended purpose of preserving existing jobs or establishing new positions.