Like most of you, I have been following the saga of the State Shutdown with much interest. It was great news, then, when the governor and legislative leaders announced a compromise yesterday.
Unfortunately, there is great likelihood that the cost of that compromise will come at the expense of our public and charter schools.
Before the shutdown, much was written about the “shift” in aid payments that had been used by past administrations to bridge Minnesota budget deficits. In essence, the state has routinely borrowed money from our public schools by delaying aid payments that the schools need to build buildings, buy textbooks, and pay teacher salaries.
The news out of this most recent budget agreement is that the state will balance its budget by taking more money from the schools (increasing the shift from 70/30 to 60/40).
Yesterday, the StarTribune updated is coverage and spoke with outgoing executive director of the Minnesota Association of School Administrators, Charlie Kyte.
“The shutdown solution — which shifts state aid payments that schools were counting on to the following year, requiring some districts to borrow money — ‘comes at a big cost to the public schools in Minnesota,’ Kyte said, ‘even though school superintendents will put the best face on this and tell their parents that we’re still doing a great job for your kids.
“‘But the reality is that the education that we’re providing our children is denigrating itself and isn’t going to be as good in the future as it has in the past.'”
On MPR this morning, current state legislators spoke about what happened in the mid-1980s when the state used similar account tricks to balance the budget. At that time, the shift was only 20%, but it took the government 15 years to pay back those funds. Some were predicting yesterday that these current shifts could take 50 years to pay back — if they get paid back at all.
Too early to tell what this means for students here in Duluth, but it is certain that this year’s budget compromise can hardly be described as a win for our students.