Legislative Action: Your Help is Needed!
We need your help. As you know STMA is ranked 329 out of 330 in per pupil revenue. Almost DEAD LAST. With three days left in the session, there is not an agreement on the overall two-year state budget. As time keeps ticking, the chances of the conference committees completing the ten budget bills and getting the bills passed on the House and Senate floors before the stroke of midnight on Monday night diminishes with each hour without a budget deal. While our budget for 2019-2020 is tentative, we anticipate deficit spending $500,000. This year we had to deficit spend $1.1 million. The deficit spending is not due to new programming or an abundance of new staff. It is due to maintaining our current programming and staff levels.
According to the Congressional Management Foundation, if a legislator has not already arrived at a firm decision on an issue, YOU can influence his/her decision by using advocacy strategies. For example, sending an e-mail with a personalized message has a 92% chance of changing the legislators mind. Please join me in contacting our local legislators as well as other key legislators including the majority and minority leaders and the chairs of the education finance committees and the conference committee members in both the Senate and the House (see below for e-mail addresses).
Here is what we need or “the ask”… Please support our schools by asking your leadership to set the education budget target high enough to provide an additional 3% increase on the basic formula for next year and a 2% increase the following year. Also, the budget target must include funding to stop the growth of the unfunded cost of special education services.
When you contact legislators start off by thanking them for their support of students (STMA students if you are sending the message to local legislators). Then in a concise and clear manner ask them to support the proposal by Governor Walz and the House. Connect the issue to STMA by explaining how it affects YOUR child(ren), students, grandchildren, community, etc. They do not want a form letter. It is critical to tell YOUR story and how it affects YOUR child(ren)/students. You can mention STMA is deficit spending approximately $500,000 and that STMA is almost last in per pupil revenue. Be sure to include a personal story…how extra mental health supports such as counselors/social workers would help your child, how expanded opportunities in the arts, world language, advanced/high potential would benefit your child, how more electives would help your child, etc.
Thanks, in advance, for your advocacy and support of STMA Schools! More information can be found on the STMA Legislative Advocacy page.
firstname.lastname@example.org (Representative Eric Lucero STMA)
https://www.senate.mn/members/member_email_form.php?member_id=1202 (Senator Kiffmeyer STMA)
STMA is ranked 329 out of 330 in per-pupil revenue among school districts in MN. ALMOST DEAD LAST. 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." Yet, STMA receives $7796 per pupil compared to the state average of $9037---that is $1241 LESS per pupil. That means FEWER opportunities for our students---less art, fewer advanced classes, less music, fewer world languages, etc. That is not uniform nor is it fair.
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 zipcode. ALL students deserve support and opportunities for students should not be determined by where their parents choose to live.
STMA Legislative Advocacy
Why School Funding Matters to You and YOUR Child
Our state's current policy for funding public education is grossly inequitable, irrational, and inexplicable.
- STMA ranks 329--- SECOND to the LAST--- in general education per pupil revenue among 330 Minnesota public school districts. To learn more click here.
- Our students receive $8,749 per pupil in general education state aid while students from Burnsville receive $13,332 and students in Richfield receive $14,204. This means fewer opportunities for our students --- less art, less music, fewer advanced classes, fewer world languages, etc.
- Inadequate state funding has created large disparities for taxpayers. STMA taxpayers pay more than their counterparts in nearby school districts. For example, for a $2,387 per pupil levy STMA taxpayers would pay $682/yr. while taxpayers in neighboring Hopkins, would pay $169/year. To learn more click here.
- The State of MN does not fully fund special education despite a plethora of mandates. For example, in FY2017 STMA diverted $3.7 million or $538 per pupil of funding meant for regular education classroom instruction to cover mandated but unreimbursed special education programming. The $3.7 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.
- 87.7% of STMA general revenue is from state aid. However, data shows that the basic state aid formula has eroded significantly since 1991 as funding has not kept up with inflation. STMA would receive $1416 per pupil if inflation were factored in. To learn more click here.
- Watch this video to learn more about school funding at STMA.
- Watch this video to learn more and see how you can help to ensure that all Minnesota students have the same educational opportunities.
House Education Finance and Policy HF2400 (Davnie)
- Budget Target= $900 million
- Basic formula Increase 3%/2% ($515 million)
- Cross-Subsidy Reduction Aid ($117.9 million)
- Safe Schools Revenue Increase ($24.4 million)
Senate Education Finance and Policy SF7 (Nelson)
- Budget Target= $206 million
- Basic Formula Increase .5%/.5% ($95 million)
- Safe Schools Revenue Increase ($74.5 million)
Governor's Education Finance Bill HF2207 (Davnie SF2347)
- Budget Target= $718 million
- Basic Formula Increase 3%/2% ($515 million)
- Cross-Subsidy Reduction Aid ($91 million)
- Safe Schools Revenue Increase ($17.3 million)
Lowers the taxpayer cost for operating referendum and debt service for building bonds.
- SF670 (Chamberlain-R)/HF618 (Runbeck-R)---property tax relief for debt service
- $30 million per year
- STMA Taxpayer Relief=$194,846
- SF1237 (Nelson-R)---property tax relief for referendum and debt service
- $63 million per year
- STMA Taxpayer Relief =$0 (referendum)
- STMA Taxpayer Relief =$1,288,677 (debt service)
- HF1142 (Tabke-DFL)--- property tax relief for debt service; HF1143 (Huot-DFL)--- property tax relief for referendum
- $100 million per year
- STMA Taxpayer Relief =$37,207 (referendum)
- STMA Taxpayer Relief =$1,622,086 (debt service)
To learn more visit the Schools for Equity in Education (SEE) web site.
How to Take Action
“We in America do not have a government by the majority. We have a government by the majority who participate.”
YOUR voice MATTERS! Please take the time to have your voice heard regarding these very important issues. Thanks, in advance, for your advocacy and support of STMA Schools!
According to the Congressional Management Foundation, if a legislator has not already arrived at a firm decision on an issue, YOU can influence his/her decision by using advocacy strategies. See below for advocacy strategies and the percentage of influence.
- In-Person Visit---94%
- E-mail w/ Personalized Message Describing Impact---92%
- Letter w/ Personalized Message Describing Impact ---88%
- Phone Call---84%
- Form E-mail---56%
- Form Letter---50%
Ways to Advocate for STMA Students and Schools:
1. Schedule an In-Person Visit
2. Send an E-Mail
3. Make a Phone Call
Governor Walz's Office: 651-201-3400
Senator Kiffmeyer: 651-296-5655
Representative Lucero: 651-296-1534
4. Stay Informed
Visit Web Sites: MN Schools Boards Association (MSBA) or Schools for Equity in Education (SEE)
Follow on Social Media: Twitter (MNMSBA), Facebook (MSBA), Brad’s Blog
Post on Social Media (i.e. Facebook, Twitter)
5. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat
Keep these tips in mind when making an in-person visit, sending an e-mail, or sending a letter.
- Start by thanking them for their support and work in advocating for STMA children.
- Think about how to deliver a concise and clear message that is brief (think 5-7 minutes maximum)
- Be clear on goals (why are you visiting/writing/e-mailing?)
- Know your issue (what is your concern?)
- Clearly state “the ask” (what do you want?)
- Connect the issue to STMA (how does it affect YOUR child, community, grandchild, etc.); They do not want a form letter; it is critical to tell YOUR story and how it affects YOUR child(ren)
- Follow-up ASAP
An example of a written letter/e-mail message is below.
Dear Senator Kiffmeyer,
Thank you for your support of students in the St. Michael-Albertville School District.
Please support bill [name] [list bill number if known (i.e. SF936)]. Describe how the bill would impact STMA Schools. For example, you may say…STMA receives significantly less funding than other school districts in Minnesota. We currently rank 329 out of 330 Minnesota School Districts in general education per pupil revenue. In fact, STMA students receive $8,749 per pupil in state aid while students from Burnsville receive $13,332 and students in Richfield receive $14,204. Children should not be penalized for choosing to live in the STMA community. Please help STMA students by fixing this disparity.
Insert concise, personal story about how this issue impacts YOU and YOUR child(ren). You can talk about missed opportunities such as fewer world language options, fewer advanced classes, fewer art/music options, fewer elective options, etc.
Thank you for your time and for advocating for STMA students.
Postal Address (include so they know you are a constituent), e-mail address, & possibly phone number
- Where Do You Live?
- Schools for Equity in Education (SEE)
- Video -- Minnesota's Educational Opportunity Gap -- Where do you live?
- Legislation and Bill Status Resource
- Who Represents Me?
- Governor's Website
- Senate Information Line: 651-296-0504
- House Information Line: 651-296-2146