STMA Legislative Action
When it comes to legislative advocacy, your voice matters! When advocating with legislators, it is important to have a basic knowledge of how public schools are funded in Minnesota.
School Funding 101
Article XIII of the MN Constitution clearly states "it is the duty of the legislature to establish a general and uniform system of public schools."
State funding is very important to STMA students, staff, and stakeholders as approximately 86% of the district’s revenue comes directly from the state’s funding formula.
Education spending is about 40% of the state’s budget but that money is not spread out evenly across Minnesota school districts. State legislators decide how much money will be spent. That money is allocated according to a complicated funding formula that gives vastly different amounts of money to each school district.
Basic Formula and Categorical Aid:
Every school district receives a basic amount of money for per pupil spending. For FY2023, that amount is $6,863 per pupil. The basic state aid formula has eroded significantly since 1991 as funding has not kept up with inflation. MN school districts would receive an additional $1,605 per pupil if inflation were factored in.
The rest of the state money is distributed according to a complicated formula known as categorical aid. STMA does not qualify for much categorical aid. Categorical aid is somewhat arbitrary and the exact reasons why some school districts qualify and other school districts do not, is determined by state legislators. In short, this means STMA receives thousands of dollars less than other school districts.
Why School Funding Matters to You and YOUR Child
In FY2020, STMA joined the Lake Conference. While we are similar to districts in the Lake Conference in academics, arts, activities, and athletics, in funding we are very different.
This graph shows the amount each STMA student receives from the state compared to the amount other districts receive. In this example, the Hopkins School District receives $4,710 more per pupil than STMA. That’s a difference of over $31 million per year!
STMA ranks 325/327--- almost dead last--- in general education per-pupil revenue among Minnesota public school districts. To learn more click here.
Operating Referendum (AKA Operating Levy):
MN school districts augment their state aid revenue by asking taxpayers to support an operating levy. Approximately 71% of public school districts have an operating levy. STMA does not have an operating levy.
The cost of raising school revenue through an operating levy is tied to a school district’s commercial property base. The STMA community is “property poor,” meaning there’s little commercial and industrial development to expand the tax base causing the tax burden to fall heavily on residential homeowners. For an operating levy, STMA taxpayers pay significantly more than taxpayers in neighboring districts who reside in a “property rich” community with lots of commercial and industrial development.
This graph shows the amount taxpayers in varying districts pay for the same per pupil operating levy.
Special Education Cross Subsidy:
The State of MN does not fully fund special education despite a plethora of mandates that districts must follow. For example, in FY2020 STMA diverted $4.5 million or $677 per pupil of funding meant for regular education classroom instruction to cover mandated but unreimbursed special education programming. The $4.5 million that STMA must divert from its general fund to pay for special education mandates substantially limits opportunities for all STMA students. To learn more click here.
STMA has worked hard to increase student achievement and offer exceptional educational opportunities to help students develop their full potential and build character. In order for us to maintain this investment in our students, we need to find a way of funding public schools that create greater equity for all students regardless of their zip code. ALL students deserve support and opportunities for students should not be determined by where their parents choose to live.