Minnesota students return to classrooms as districts receive historic new investments in public education
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ST. PAUL, Minnesota. Sept. 9, 2021 – Nearly all Minnesota students are back in their classrooms this week as school districts continue to receive historic investments in public education from the federal and state governments, including a $29 million in new funding to ensure that enrollment losses related to the pandemic last year don’t harm students this fall.
“Educators all over Minnesota are excited to welcome our students back to class,” said Denise Specht, the president of Education Minnesota. “Our schools won’t look like they did before the pandemic started, but we’re confident the learning conditions will be better than last year because nearly everyone will be back in the buildings.”
“However, too many students are returning to schools that are short staffed. We urge administrators to spend these new investments to fill jobs for education support professionals, teachers, counselors, other educators and all the other staff members needed to run a school,” Specht said. “The money is there. It’s time to recruit and retain enough professional educators to give Minnesota students the education they deserve.”
“These investments would not have happened without hundreds of educators sharing their stories with legislators about the needs of their students and the unwavering support of Gov. Tim Walz,” Specht said. “Schools have the financial resources they need because of engaged educators and the Educator Governor, who supported the majority in the Minnesota House and used his own authority to fill in the gaps left by the Legislature.”
Walz announced Friday that school districts will receive another $29 million in one-time funding to support the general operations of schools. The money will cushion the effect of unexpected enrollment losses in the 2020-21 school year, which could have affected students this school year because Minnesota schools receive most of their state funding on a per-pupil basis.
Minnesota’s E-12 schools will also benefit from a 2021 state budget that increases education spending by $1.2 billion over four years and a total of $1.3 billion in federal American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief. Districts have flexibility in how to spend both sources of money.
“This could be a challenging year for students and educators struggling with the traumas they experienced since the start of the pandemic,” Specht said. “Our schools need to dramatically increase their investments in mental health and other kinds of student support this year – and this year there is actually enough money to do it.”
About Education Minnesota
Education Minnesota is the voice for professional educators and students. Education Minnesota’s members include teachers and education support professionals in Minnesota’s public school districts, faculty members at Minnesota’s community and technical colleges and University of Minnesota campuses in Duluth and Crookston, retired educators and student teachers. Education Minnesota is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, National Education Association and AFL-CIO.