Ed Money Watch

A Blog from New America's Federal Education Budget Project

< Back to the Education Policy Program

Friday News Roundup: Week of March 12-16

Published:  March 16, 2012

Minnesota House GOP approves payment to schools

More than 20,000 California teachers pink-slipped

Texas schools face bigger classes and smaller staff

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s budget would boost state spending by $2.1 billion

Minnesota House GOP approves payment to schools
A Minnesota fiscal year 2012 budget agreement the state legislature reached last year withheld $770 million in funding intended for public K-12 schools to be paid later. Added to a previous delay of K-12 payments, the state owed schools $2.7 billion as of last month; that total has since dropped to $2.4 billion as state finances have begun to recover. This week, House Republicans passed a plan to repay some of that debt – $430 million – through the state’s rainy day fund, arguing that with over $1 billion in cash available to legislators, the state should begin to repay the money. Democrats preferred to leave the rainy day fund untouched and instead repay the entire amount by repealing some tax breaks for businesses. State officials have also expressed concern about dipping into the rainy day fund, warning that the state’s fiscal circumstances may change in the coming months and leave it short on cash. The Senate has not yet taken up the measure, and Governor Mark Dayton of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party has said he feels the bill is fiscally irresponsible. More here…

More than 20,000 California teachers pink-slipped
California school districts this week were required to distribute pink slips to teachers, a preliminary warning that the district may not receive enough state funding to offer them a position next year. As is the case every year, the state legislature won’t be able to finalize the state budget for public K-12 education it concludes its budget process this summer. But this year, the state is facing increased ambiguity because a tax measure that would prevent a $4.8 billion cut to education funding won’t be on the ballot until November. If the measure fails, one advocacy group claims, it would cause cuts equivalent to 55,000 teacher layoffs or the elimination of 17 days of school. Districts have rescinded pink slips in the past after their fiscal outlooks were settled, but looking ahead to fiscal year 2013, districts are unsure of their financial positions. It remains unclear whether the layoff notices will be cancelled before the start of the school year. More here…

Texas schools face bigger classes and smaller staff
According to figures from the Texas Education Agency, the number of elementary school classrooms that exceeds the 22:1 ratio cap on students to teachers in kindergarten through 4th grade classes has nearly quadrupled since the 2011 school year, jumping to 8,479 this year from 2,238. That’s because the legislature passed a measure in its 2011 session to make it easier for schools to receive exemptions to the cap following a $5.4 billion cut to public K-12 education over the 2012 and 2013 fiscal years. The cuts have presented a particular challenge for the state’s 102 fastest-growing districts, which have collectively seen 92 percent of the state’s total student enrollment growth since 2007. Nearly half – 46 percent – of schools in those districts have been granted student to teacher ratio exemptions. More here….

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s budget would boost state spending by $2.1 billion
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie introduced a $32.1 billion fiscal year 2013 budget last month that restored some of the funding cuts he made during his first two years in the governor’s mansion. After a fiscal year 2010 budget that cut more than $2.2 billion across agencies, the funding restorations included in the budget document are a relief to many. But Democrats in the state argue that he should not receive credit for the funding increase for fiscal year 2013 because it only restores funding to the levels at which they were funded three years ago. Christie’s fiscal year 2010 K-12 education budget cut funding to $7.9 billion, from his predecessor’s $8.8 billion 2009 budget which included federal stimulus funds. The next year, he increased aid for education by more than $800 million, but a state Supreme Court ruling sent most of the funding to the state’s neediest school districts. His proposed fiscal year 2013 budget would increase K-12 funding back to fiscal year 2009 levels – $8.8 billion – without the benefit of federal stimulus funds. The proposed budget would also increase spending for public higher education to $2.08 billion, up slightly from his fiscal year 2010 budget of $2.06 billion. More here…

Join the Conversation

Please log in below through Disqus, Twitter or Facebook to participate in the conversation. Your email address, which is required for a Disqus account, will not be publicly displayed. If you sign in with Twitter or Facebook, you have the option of publishing your comments in those streams as well.