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After two days of public testimony and debate, the House Education Finance Committee passed Republican's K-12 budget bill, which caps special education funding and strips dollars from areas like Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth while increasing the funding formula for schools across the state.

House Education Finance Committee passes K-12 budget bill

Rep. Pat Garofalo

Rep. Pat Garofalo

After two days of public testimony and debate, the House Education Finance Committee passed Republican’s K-12 budget bill, which caps special education funding and strips dollars from areas like Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth while increasing the funding formula for schools across the state.

The bill, authored by Republican Education Finance Chair Pat Garofalo, passed Tuesday on a 12-7 vote. The bill drew the most criticism from DFL legislators from the metro area, who said the bill hits first-class cities hardest. Among their concerns:

  • It eliminates funding set aside to desegregate schools for Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth.
  • The bill funds vouchers for some low-income students to attend private schools, which DFLers say would allow the state’s private schools to pick and choose which students to accept and leave public schools to teach the state’s most challenging students.
  • It caps state special education funding. Some lobbyists and legislators say this will hit metro-area schools and regional centers the hardest, as they have the highest population of special education students in the state.
  • The proposal forces the Perpich Center for Arts Education, currently a state agency, to either become a charter school or close within two years. The school was named for the former DFL Gov. Rudy Perpich and lies in a DFL district (Golden Valley).

DFL Rep. Mindy Greiling said the bill is the most partisan proposal she has seen in her time on the House Education Committee, saying it was like “war on Minneapolis and St. Paul.”

Republican Rep. Sondra Erickson, who chairs the House Education Reform Committee, said integration funds have been misused by the cities over the years and have done nothing to close the achievement gap. “We have funding that is not serving its purpose and is being abused at an unconscionable level,” she said. Freshman GOP Rep. Branden Petersen agreed, saying they were “correcting inequities that were created decades ago.”

With money saved from these proposals, the bill increases the per pupil funding formula for every school, and gives extra to districts that have 1,000 students or less.

The bill also cuts funding for the Minnesota Department of Education and implements policy proposals that have drawn the ire of the DFL-friendly teacher’s unions. That includes a provision to target teacher’s collective bargaining rights, another to allow school districts to lay off teachers regardless of seniority and one that would require teachers to apply for tenure every five years.

The bill will now head to the House Taxes Committee.

13 comments

  1. This is truly unbelievable.
    What they are proposing are more than cuts to Minneapolis, St. Paul and Duluth! As they eliminate integration, they eliminate magnet schools, of which there are over 80 serving tens of thousands of students and families. Magnet schools serve more students than charters and out perform them. Further, as they allocate more and more money to the failed experiment of Charter schools, they also know that they further segregate while magnet schools are specifically designed to integrate.

    Integration funds have only been allowed to close the achievement gap since 2009. How can they claim this is a failure when this is a new provision? Since when do Minnesotans want segregation? If it’s segregation they want, then say so.

    Not to mention, the bill in the House was released on Sunday. This bill has dozens of provisions that have a HUGE impact on schools and they very nature in which they operate and was only given ONE DAY of hearings.

    This is not what Minnesotans expect from our government. We expect people to work it out. The Republicans think they have some supermajority but they forget that a Democratic governor was also elected. Minnesotans are smarter than people give them credit for – they want balanced government and we want our leaders to compromise in the best interest of all.

    Chair Garaffalo was asked several fundamental questions by Ms. Barbara Bearman. When will she get her answers?

  2. I truly do not know how our state elected these dimwits. They campaigned on jobs, jobs, jobs and the economy ; and what do they do but CUT jobs and treat the wealthy as oligarchy. The rich get richer, the working class get screwed. Add to that a social agenda that is despicable. Wake up people, these conservatives are ruining your middle class lives!

  3. I am currently a junior at the Perpich Center For Arts Education. Perpich has changed my life, and I cannot imagine a world in which Perpich is not allowed to change thousands of other lives. Because Perpich is a state funded agency, I am able to attend thanks to the dorms. I live over an hour away typically in the small town of Northfield, MN. Before Perpich I was on my way to not caring at all about high school, and I was on a horrible path for my life. I did drugs, I never did my homework, and my attitude could not have been worse. Then I applied for Perpich. I worked harder than I had for anything before, because my parents said that if I really wanted it, I had to get in all on my own. I did paintings upon paintings, drawings upon drawings, and I tried to improve my grades so I would be accepted. I got teacher recommendations and slaved over my application papers for months.Then a little over a month before my interview my parents said I had to pass a urinary analysis test before I could go to my Perpich interview. Since that moment over a year ago, I have stayed 100% sober. Perpich gave me something to be motivated for, something to stay sober for. I ended up getting into Perpich, and it has saved and changed my life like nothing before. My grades have improved EXPONENTIALLY since starting here, and I have even begun to earn college credits. My social skills have soared, and I have met hundreds of amazing people I would have never met before. I have been given opportunities with professional supplies and artists, that I would have NEVER gotten before coming here. Thanks to Perpich I am also applying for numerous scholarships for summer college programs, and I am on my way to kicking *** at college, and being an incredible artist.
    Without Perpich I would be an angry, drugged up teenager with straight C’s at best. I know I am not the only student who has had an experience like this, and I think it would be an incredible shame to close the doors of opportunities that Perpich brings students from all over Minnesota. Making Perpich a charter school (which would eliminate the dorms, and the application process creating a first come first serve school) would be a horrible choice, and would show a real lack of faith in the upcoming generations, and thousands of youth who cannot strive in an average public school setting.

  4. I am also a current junior at Perpich Arts High School. Without Perpich, I would not be half the person I am today. Perpich has made me a better artist, a better student, and an all around better human being. Freshman year at armstrong high school, I contemplated dropping out, changing schools, etc, and i was one messed up kid. Once I remembered Perpich being mentioned to me, i instantly started researching it. Knowing that I had a chance of getting in fueled me to get good grades, and continue my education. Now, i love life, I ENJOY getting up to go to school in the morning. I am planning on going into the film business as a cinematographer, and an editor. If Perpich closes, i feel that that dream will be lost in the dust (or should i say snow?). Making Perpich a charter school will not only make it so that only metro area students are allowed to attend, it will ruin many peoples lives, Perpich will turn into another average, crappy, public high school. Perpich is the only thing keeping my faith in public schooling, and I want Perpich to be around for my kids to attend (If they so choose). PLEASE write to Governor Mark Dayton asking him to VETO THIS BILL. Perpich students! Alumni! Applicants! Future attenders! Write the government asking to keep Perpich the way it is! Say how Perpich CHANGED (or will change) your LIFE. I am a Perpich student, and I am afraid for my friends, afraid for my school, and afraid for myself. PLEASE HELP KEEP PERPICH AROUND!

  5. If I hadnt have found Perpich from my cousin, who is currently going there, i probably would have dropped out of school and became a drug addict. Perpich is the reason that im still plugging away at school, and if it closes, I wont have a reason to attend. My cousin says its a great experience, and has great faculty, and i really want to go there.

  6. I am also a Junior this year at my beloved school Perpich Center for Arts Education. This school has changed so many lives around me. It has become my most favorite place to be in the world besides my own home. This place has changed me in ways most other students my age would never do. I became more motivated, more responsible and more expressive because I found the school that requires you to be your best. I can say that I know people who told me before I came here I would get in. They knew what Perpich expected and the qualities a student who goes there must have. Perpich has created so many fantastic artists, the teachers encourage us students to be amazing. The students here all love what they do. It’s a better school than any other I’ve ever seen, no one should change this school. There are students who are so miserable in their schools now because art is being cut, greed is taking over art, students are losing the desire to be in school and participate because they are not motivated the teachers don’t support them like the teachers at Perpich. Those kids out there who just feel like they don’t feel like they belong or like they can ever be an artist look to schools like Perpich. I was one of those students. I hated where I was because no one besides my art class teacher told me I could ever truly be someone. I love art, my school, and the education I’m receiving here. It’s given me so much, this school the teachers and the students even. Because of this fantastic school I’m going to try and focus my skills in the photography world someday. It’s a challenging place to be, but because of Perpich I feel I can be the most incredible artist.
    This cant happen Perpich has brought me out here from a country life where nothing really happened. This school has brought me so much in my life nothing could make me want to see this school change. I wish other students in other schools could see what a school is meant to be like. Everyone is so happy here and loves what they do. It makes me feel honored to be and just absolutely gratified. I love this school the teachers and the students who I am close to now. Making Perpich like any other school would ruin it’s reputation as an art school. My life has changed completely because of this place. I want my brother to attend here someday, I love this school. Nothing could make me happier everyday than coming here, I feel sad at the end of the day when I have to go home. My school before this was horrible. Perpich is a home for so many students like myself. Please if Perpich is so important to you make a stand.

  7. I am a junior at Perpich High, and I know I am receiving an exponentially more effective education at Perpich than I have at my old high school, in the arts AND academically. I live in the dorms, which would be eliminated if this bill passes, and coming here has forced me to grow up in ways I didn’t know I had to, but it has been the best college preparation imaginable. I know many of my fellow dormers are living in the dorms in place of a horrid home life, not to mention escaping small minded communities who place little value on the arts, in contrast with the twin cities, who have a thriving arts scene. There is literally NO other public arts residential high school in America, and lets face it, there are not THAT many things Minnesota can claim to have particular stake in, except the arts and granite. It’s time we start to willingly devote recourses to the next generation. As the baby boomers reach retirement age, it is those refused a good education who will be dominating the job market, and it will crash even farther! We are ALREADY in a recession! How much farther do we need to fall before we start making sacrifices for the future?!?!

  8. As a parent of a Perpich student, I am dismayed and saddened by this turn of events. As my son and his cousin have already stated above, this school changes lives. We are lucky that Ray is a part of this education opportunity. He is so motivated to succeed in his art that he is working harder on his academic classes. He so HAPPY–and he has always (nearly always, except at Armstrong) been happy. This is different.

    This is a school that embraces the diversity of the student–not just in race, but in thought, sexual orientation, and expectation. I see a variety of life experience within the eyes of these students. Everyone has a place there.

    We know a few people who have graduated from Perpich, and I believe the welcoming environment, the understanding that students learn in a variety of ways and teachers willing to work together with the students to help them find success is something needed within our education system. I, like Ray, am afraid that this unique group of students (now and in the future) could end up being bullied, stifled, use drugs/alcohol to cope, and could commit suicide because they are not understood within their home schools.

    There is so much more to teaching our students that is missed in “traditional” education. These students are treated with dignity and respect. They are challenged and motivated to succeed. This is a community that can and should continue as it is. It should also be used as a model for other schools.

    Please, do not allow this school to disappear and the voices of these students to be silenced.

  9. I neglected to mention one thing, paramount in this decision. These students are amazing artists. They are talented and creative and have minds that whirl in colors unimaginable to many of us. They need to be trained by people who see colors like that. They need to be encouraged and challenged by other students like them. Our books, movies, art museums, theatres and concerts need these students to share their gifts. Our world needs to hear their voices.

  10. I’m also a junior at the arts high school, I am in the visual arts department. It’s nice seeing all of my classmates posting on here to speak to protect what they love.

    I have a similar story to theirs in means of my past school performance. No matter how much my parents would tell me how I’m good enough to be at the top of my class in my hometown’s school, I could never believe it because nobody there could make me feel like I was worth their time. My only sanctuary was the art classroom. Even there I was deprived of an effective education, because no matter how skilled I student I was everyone was required to start at the introduction class and work their way up to higher levels.

    Last year I had an art teacher who noticed my frustration, and she let me use the classes Drawing I and Drawing II as a time to develop my portfolio instead of following the basic lessons she gave to the rest of the class according to the class’s syllabus. She knew that I hadn’t been learning anything new in my district’s art classes in years. I had been getting screwed over for my talents the entire time I attended school in my district and I had realized it to the fullest last year.

    Mom found out Perpich in time for the auditions. Thanks to the portfolio work i did for my old art teacher I got accepted. I am forever grateful to her and to my parents for pushing me so hard to earn something better for myself. My year at Perpich has done so much more for me than I expected when I first saw this place, I didn’t quite anticipate how much it would change me. I have gone this whole year so far with nothing less than an A- in all of my academic classes, and I always push myself to do the best that I can do for every assignment in my art classes. I have learned that I do the best work when I am truly engaged and interested in my subject, this is something that my old school couldn’t do for me. At Perpich, I matter, and I am respected for my strong academic performances, my art, and for who I am. To change the school’s atmosphere it has is robbing me as well as everyone who goes and will go here of their potential to become more than what is expected.

    Thank you very much for reading.

  11. I hope these talented, well spoken young people at Perpich SPEAK UP by testifying, writing to your legislators, and the Governor immediately. This is an exceptional school and a great treasure to our state. Good luck everyone!

  12. Our daughter has applied to attend Perpich Arts High School next year. Though we do not know yet if she will be admitted, I truly see a need for a school of this type. My daughter wants to be a concept artist, and is capable of writing songs (both lyrics and melody). But she has NO training or encouragement in visual arts or music at her current high school (we live south of Minnesota River). She is motivated to go to an art college, and the Perpich facility are very experienced in assisting the student toward that goal. My daughter is unique in her way of learning and seeing the world around her, which this school is so perfectly set up to address. As a conservative Republican, I am all for not wasting tax payer (my!) money on useless, unprofitable projects. But I can see a real need for a school such as this to train up the next generation of creative talent from all areas of our beautiful state. And if you look at the graduation and college statistics for this school…..well, we can only wish the other high schools in Minnesota were half as successful. This school is a hugh success for Minnesota education and well worth the cost!

  13. This is really an unacceptable proposal that will hurt education and our younger generation negatively. Education is the cornerstone of our lives and these proposals would be negative in many ways and severely damage some schools which are currently considered outstanding schools in Hennepin county.

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