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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 FY2024, that amount is $7,138 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 $1,356 per pupil if inflation were factored in. Click here to see how the basic formula has not kept up with inflation. 

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. By simply adjusting the basic formula to inflation, we would receive an additional $9 million annually. Click here to see STMA's categorical aid.

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 $6,453 more per pupil than STMA. That’s a difference of over $42 million per year! 

STMA ranks 322/328--- 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 70% 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. The disparity in operating levies between school districts is growing and can range from $0 to over $2,500 per pupil, leaving many students without the opportunities they need and deserve.

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 FY2023 STMA diverted $4.9 million or $693 per pupil of funding meant for regular education classroom instruction to cover mandated but unreimbursed special education programming. The $4.9 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.

“We in America do not have a government by the majority. We have a government by the majority who participate.”  ~Thomas Jefferson

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%
  • Email with Personalized Message Describing Impact---92%
  • Letter with Personalized Message Describing Impact---88%
  • Phone Call---84%
  • Form Email---56%
  • Form Letter---50%

Ways to Advocate for STMA Students and Schools: