Dayton proposal includes over $2M for A.L. district

Published 10:12 am Thursday, February 9, 2017

Gov. Mark Dayton’s education funding proposal could bring an additional $2.1 million in funding over the next biennium to Albert Lea Area Schools.

Details of the proposal were given during a conference call Wednesday with Dayton, Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius, Marshall Public Schools Superintendent Scott Monson, West Central Initiative Early Childhood Coordinator Nancy Jost and Health Commissioner Ed Ehlinger.

Mark Dayton

Mark Dayton

Cassellius said in addition to the more than $2 million planned for the Albert Lea district, additional special education funding is also expected, but the amount specific to Albert Lea was not known on Wednesday.

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Dayton’s budget includes a $609 million investment in elementary through 12th-grade education. More than $370 million would be invested in the next two years in all public school districts in Minnesota.

Dayton wants to invest $40 million in special education and $4 million to increase the number of school counselors, social workers, psychologists and nurses to help fund districts that did not receive funding last year for support staff and counselors.

Dayton’s budget invests $62 million over four years to help school districts repay bond levies in a way he said would not put an undue burden on farmers, businesses and other private property owners.

Cassellius said Dayton’s proposals will help everyone across the state, including Albert Lea, by helping children and their families.

Dayton said the budget helps address an achievement gap that can be caused by childhood poverty and racial disparities. The education budget is an attempt to have the state catch up on education funding, he said.   

Dayton wants to invest $75 million in voluntary pre-K education to expand learning opportunities, and his budget includes continuing to fund early learning scholarships and an $84 million investment in the Child Care Assistance Program he said would improve care for more than 30,000 Minnesota children. State officials said 159 families in Freeborn County and 64 families in Faribault County have been served by the program.

His budget includes more than $60 million for child care tax credits. Last year, Albert Lea Area Schools received more than $800,000 for free, voluntary pre-K programming for 100 students. United South Central Public Schools  received $205,917 for 35 children.

Other investments included in Dayton’s education budget:

• $31 million to the Department of Health’s Home Visiting program, which helps young parents of at-risk children develop skills. The investment would also increase medical assistance payments for the services. Nearly 30 families in Freeborn County have been served by the program.

• $2 million to reduce homelessness for families with children.

• $2 million to give more schools the opportunity to partner with communities to offer health and dental clinics, mental health services, family resource centers, college access information, out-of-school program information and other family support services.

• $3 million for the Help Me Grow initiative, which provides child development information to parents and child care providers to help identify young children with development and emotional concerns and to connect them with appropriate services.

Other local schools would receive the following funding under Dayton’s budget:

• Alden-Conger Public School District: $274,438

• Glenville-Emmons Schools: $183,259

• NRHEG: $489,946

• United South Central: $404,056

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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