$200,000 additional funding to District 518
WORTHINGTON — Thanks to $54 million in new education funding enacted by the Minnesota Legislature and Gov. Mark Dayton during the 2014 legislative session, Worthington District 518 schools will receive an additional $209,673 in new funding this school year.
The new funding is for increased student aid, early learning programs, nutritious breakfast and lunches, and other important measures. The added funds will benefit Worthington’s more than 2,800 students, as well as the more than 840,000 students across Minnesota.
“These new investments are critical for our students to be successful,” said Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius. “With smart investments in the things that matter, we will be able to tackle our achievement gaps more effectively, help more kids get a great start in their academic career, and better support every student on his or her path to high school graduation and beyond.”
Statewide, $660 million was invested in education from early learning to grade 12 over the last two years. Worthington Public Schools received $2,874,835 of that money, with those funds designed to providing better resources for Worthington students and teachers into the future. In addition, the state paid back the funds previously borrowed from schools, also known as the “school shift.”
“Over the last two years, we have paid back all the $2.8 billion previously borrowed from our schools, funded 9,000 early learning scholarships, provided access to free full-day kindergarten for every student, and significantly increased funding for every school district in Minnesota,” Dayton said in a press release. “These investments will greatly improve our nation-leading education system, and help provide our students the advantages and opportunities they need to succeed in school, life and the jobs of tomorrow.”
Cassellius said the new funding, not only for District 518 but all Minnesota public schools, will assist in closing the achievement gap.
“We’ve seen the achievement gap close by 10 points since 2009, so we know the investments that we are making in our schools are addressing the significant need for closing the achievement gap we have in the state,” she said.
Cassellius also explained the new funding to schools will also help with Dayton’s 7-Point Plan for Excellence in Education that he launched in February 2011.
“Making those early investments in a child’s education is pertinent to this plan,” she explained. “Funding for the future, better quality early childhood education, closing the achievement gap, reading well by the third grade, support teaching for better schools, better testing for better results, and a department that provides educational leadership and support are all part of the plan — and this new funding will help accomplish those goals.”
District 518 Superintendent John Landgaard broke down what the extra funding will do locally.
“This new money has to do with funding changes, but part of the money we are getting is for the new teacher evaluation, which is a little over $72,000, but that’s only for next year,” Landgaard explained.
“So if you take the ‘one time’ money out of it, we’re really only getting about $150,000 in new money,” he added.
Landgaard said the rest of the money will go toward transportation services, funding classroom position support to help decrease class sizes, and to basic general education revenue.
As far as closing the achievement gap in Worthington, Landgaard isn’t convinced the new state money will result in significant change.
“My argument is we can change something else and potentially have more effect than that,” he said. “For us (District 518), it’s about taking the data we have, looking at individual students and working with those students.
“We have put into place in our system a number of support mechanisms that help close that achievement gap,” Landgaard added.
Landgaard said the new funding supports the district, but he would like to see other changes made.
“I think the legislature made great strides in trying to meet the needs for all districts in the state, but we still have a ways to go,” he said.
Daily Globe Reporter Erin Trester may be reached at 376-7322.