General Economic News
Today the state economic forecast was released and it contains some good news. The state has a projected surplus of almost $1.1 billion. After the school property tax recognition shift is repaid, along with a loan from the state airport fund, $825 million remains on the bottom line. I’ve included some general fund information below that was taken from the Minnesota Management and Budget website located at www.mmb.state.mn.us.
Minnesota’s Budget Outlook Improves
Changes in forecast general fund revenue and expenditures for the current biennium have increased the projected balance for FY 2014-15 from $47 million to $1.086 billion. Forecast revenues have increased $787 million (2.0 percent), while projected spending is $247 million (0.6 percent) lower. A net reduction in general fund reserves added an additional $5 million to the bottom line. K-12 Shifts Completely Repaid, $825 Million Balance Remains. As in recent forecasts, current law requires any forecast balance be used to repay K- 12 shifts. The first $246 million of the balance will be used to complete repayment of the K-12 school property tax recognition shift. Additionally, $15 million is transferred to the state airports fund, restoring money originally borrowed in 2008. This forecast completes repayment of accounting shifts from prior budget solutions, reducing the forecast balance to $825 million.
World’s Best Workforce
In the eleventh hour of our last legislative session, Minnesota schools were charged with the task of completing a World’s Best Workforce (WBWF) plan for implementation this year, and then annually update the plan for submission by Oct. 1. We’ve recently received a “tool kit” checklist of what MDE recommends for districts to do.
There are several pieces that we do already, but may need retooling to meet the intent of MDE requirements. We are also required to hold a public meeting about our plan. We’re currently in the process of “connecting the dots” - assessing where the new requirements fit in, how they correspond to what the district already does, and what else needs to get done. The plan that each district creates is intended to serve as a foundational document to align educational initiatives that serve to ensure reaching intended student outcomes from pre-kindergarten to post high school graduation. Districts are encouraged to use existing plans, documents and strategies that may already be in place and/or are required by the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE). The district level plan should illustrate how the various existing district plans fit together and serve as a blueprint to create a quality workforce equipped with necessary skills for the 21st century. Existing plans include: strategic plan, school readiness, title one, literacy plan, building/district level goals, PER/WBWF, PLC’s, MMR, RTI, etc.
According to initial guidance from MDE on the legislation, by 2025 WBWF is intended to:
• Have all students meet school readiness goals
• Have all third-graders achieve grade-level literacy
• Close the academic achievement gap among all racial and ethnic groups of students and between students living in poverty and their more privileged peers
• Have all students graduate from high school
• Have all students attain college and career preparedness
Success in reaching these goals will rest on the following performance measures, according to MDE:
• Student performance on the National Association of Education Progress (NAEP)
• Reduction of the academic achievement gap by student subgroup
• Student performance on the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCAs)
• College and career readiness as defined in state statutes (Section 120B.30)
School boards are required to develop a plan to support and improve teaching and learning that is aligned to the World’s Best Work Force and includes:
• Clearly defined student achievement goals and benchmarks
• A process to evaluate each student’s progress toward meeting the state and local academic standards
• A system to review and evaluate the effectiveness of instruction and curriculum
• Practices that integrate high-quality instruction, rigorous curriculum, instructional technology and a collaborative professional culture that supports teacher quality, performance and effectiveness
• Evidence-based strategies for improving curriculum, instruction and student achievement
• An annual budget for continuation of the district plan’s implementation
School boards are also asked to establish an advisory committee that ensures community participation, reflects the diversity of the district and its school sites and makes recommendations to the school board regarding rigorous academic standards, student achievement goals and measures.
Under the legislation, the board will
• Publish a report on district plan results each fall
• Hold an annual public meeting
• Periodically survey constituencies about their connection to schools and level of satisfaction
• Submit an electronic summary of the report to the state commissioner of education
Senior of the Week
The EV-W School District would like to recognize Connor Flaschenriem, son of Dan and Penny. Connor’s philosophy on role-modeling is that everyone should stand up for themselves and advocate for their beliefs. He’s currently enrolled in three college level courses, and plans to take five more during the second semester. Connor actively participates in the National Honor Society, Student Council, Knowledge Bowl, Eagle’s Cry Newspaper, Aquila, and German Club. Outside of the school setting, you might find Connor working at Flash’s Gas and Auto in Watkins. The EVW administration, faculty and staff are extremely proud of your accomplishments. Congratulations!