Public Schools in a Terrible Fix

It is our understanding that school districts were notified on Tuesday that they will receive some state funds in time to process payroll for July. However, they still have no budget for the year, and the amount of funding schools will receive for July is unlikely to be the amount they are owed. Here’s why…

Yesterday, Gov. Reeves told reporters that legislators should take approximately $28-million needed for the School Recognition Program out of funds they appropriated to the MAEP for teacher salaries and classroom materials. He justified this with a claim that HB 1700 increased the appropriation for the MAEP by $40-million. This is not true. But Reeves has put himself in charge of school funding until he calls a special session, necessitated by his veto of funding the Legislature appropriated for public schools. Therefore, school funding in the interim is likely to reflect his misguided belief that MAEP funding should be further reduced.

Here’s the truth: Like all state agencies, the MAEP suffered a cut due to the downturn in the economy. Legislators worked hard to spare the MAEP, keeping that reduction to only 1.6%, compared to about 5% for most agencies. But a cut it was – not an increase.

It’s possible that Reeves is confused because, in last year’s budget (FY2020), the 2019 teacher pay raise funding was included in MDE’s general ed budget, not the MAEP. In the current year’s budget (FY2021), that salary increase was built into the MAEP line item, which could create the false impression that there was an increase in MAEP funding.

As the clock winds down toward the start of school, school district leaders are in a terrible fix. Costs to safely operate schools are skyrocketing (thermometers, masks, gloves, disinfectant, devices for distance learning, etc.), and school officials are attempting to piece together tentative budgets and make purchases with no assurance of what state funding they will receive. 

When asked at his press briefings when he will call a special session so the Legislature can solve the school budget crisis he caused, Reeves has consistently played the “I can’t call a special session because it isn’t safe” card. In those same briefings, Reeves has repeatedly said that teachers and students should return to school. The irony of those conflicting statements isn’t lost on parents and educators.

Speaking of reductions to public school funding, please remember to submit public comments about Sec. Betsy DeVos’s proposed new federal rule that would take funding away from public school children to benefit even the wealthiest private school children. Read more. The deadline for comments is July 31.

Please tell Sec. DeVos that you oppose her interim final rule that requires public schools to use their CARES Act funds to serve even the wealthiest private school students. Public schools should provide equitable services for only low-income private school students.

Include this federal docket ID number at the top of your comments: ED-2020-OESE-0091.

Click to submit comments via the Federal Rulemaking Portal.

Or mail comments to:
Ms. Amy Huber
U.S. Department of Education
400 Maryland Avenue SW, Room 3W219
Washington, DC 20202

What a year! Please thank an educator today – their jobs are tough! And, hang in there, parents. Together, we’ve got this!

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