Proposal focuses on education finance reform

NEW ULM – Total per-student revenue in District 88 would increase by $698, from the current $10,101 to $10,799, if state legislators support Minnesota Department of Education proposal for education finance reform.

School administrators express support for the plan, which according to proponents seeks simplification of, and greater equity in, school funding.

The average per-student revenue statewide would increase by $763, from $10,905 to $11,668, under the plan. Total per-student funding would increase in many area schools. In just a few examples, revenue would go up from $9,767 to $10,346 per student in Mankato; from $10,870 to $11,682 in Comfrey; from $10,411 to $11,501 in Sleepy Eye; and from $9,499 to $10,175 in Springfield.

The proposal, published about a month ago, was developed by the 2012 Education Finance Working Group. The group, appointed by Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius, includes school and civic leaders, sitting legislators, citizens and parents.

In part, the report recommends “reversing the regressive nature of school funding by lessening reliance on local referenda and making existing school property tax levies less regressive, more stable and uniform throughout the state.”

It also calls for funding all-day kindergarten, especially for students living in poverty; significantly increasing special education funding to reduce cross subsidies; reforms in compensatory funding; continuing a literacy incentive; “refocusing” integration funding; and more uniform access to facilities funding.

To smooth the transition to a new system, the report also urges phasing in revenue increases and a uniform general education levy.

The realignment of the funding mechanism being recommended would result in a realignment of revenue sources for schools. Generally, if the total statewide property levy remains constant, outer-metro and larger non-metro schools would see a small decrease in their reliance on local property taxes, while inner-metro and smaller non-metro schools will see school-levy hikes.

Some area examples: District 88’s total school tax levy would decrease by 5.5 percent, from $4.64 million now, to $4.38 million (the levy amounts were rounded). The total property tax levy would decrease 2.8 percent in Mankato, but increase 10.2 percent in Comfrey, 26.1 percent in Sleepy Eye, and 0.8 percent in Springfield.

The complete report is available at

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