Legislative Update – 9/25/17

Supplemental Budget Reported from Committee

Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported the fall supplemental budget bill, SB 133. The highlights of the bill are as follows:

  • Revises the entry age into GSRP from age 4 by September 1st to age 4 by December 1st with a parent waiver. This change would make GSRP in line with kindergarten entry dates. The revised section would also allow Americorp to provide curriculum for GSRP classrooms.
  • Revises the boilerplate language around funding for literacy coaches, as requested by MDE. The revision would allow for the reimbursement of at least 50% of the grant amount rather than 50% of the cost of the literacy coach. The grant amount is $75,000. 
  • Section 104c is amended to cap the amount of time spent on the math/ELA portion of the MSTEP at 3 hours for any grade level and amends some reporting dates. The changes require the approval of at least two benchmark assessments by March 1st and require the creation of a benchmark assessment budget request for FY 18-19.
  • The supplemental does not include changes to the accountability system. While the Governor, Superintendent Whiston, and several legislative leaders continue to support an A-F letter grade accountability system, the change will not be made in this supplemental budget. 
  • There are changes in Sec. 61c. This categorical is the funding for CTE infrastructure. The budget that passed in June allocated almost $10m in funds to be distributed equally amongst grant applicants. The supplemental appropriates $5m to be distributed equally and $7 m to be distributed competitively. 
  • Section 21f is revised to remove the requirement for homeschool and non-public school children to submit an education development plan. This plan is currently required for all students taking virtual classes.

Enhanced Education Savings Plan Moves out of Senate Education

The Senate Education committee reported a package of bills aimed at allowing parents to make tax deductible contributions to a fund modeled off the current education savings plans for colleges.  

The bills, as written, would allow contributions of between $5,000 and $10,000 to be purchased by parents or guardians and managed by the state for an administrative fee. The total amount contributed by parents could be deducted from taxes. The use of the money is determined by MDE but must fall in to 5 categories for K-12 or Post-secondary. The five categories include core instruction, non-core instruction, extracurricular instruction, support activities, and course materials.