Rep. Torrey Westrom says rural schools will get more aidAlthough this year was a tough budget year and included an education shift to help balance the budget, the final budget made our kids a priority. That is why we have increased per pupil funding this year for our school districts.
Editor’s note: The following column was provided by Representative Torrey Westrom, R-Elbow Lake, who represents a good portion of Douglas County:
Although this year was a tough budget year and included an education shift to help balance the budget, the final budget made our kids a priority. That is why we have increased per pupil funding this year for our school districts.
In recent years, when education funds were shifted, no financial relief was made available to our school districts. This year, we have made students a priority and increased per pupil funding to a number of Minnesota schools, especially rural school districts that often receive less then metro schools.
When Governor Dayton proposed a school shift of 50/50, the Legislature felt that would be too much, so a 60/40 shift was agreed to and per pupil funding increased to shoulder the burden of the shift.
The Alexandria school district will receive an additional $378 in per pupil funding through 2013 increasing total per pupil funding from $8,476 to $8,854.The Brandon school district will receive an additional $607 increasing per pupil funding from $8,398 to $9,005. Evansville is set to receive an increase of $1,118 per pupil through 2013, increasing from $10,037 to $11,155 by 2013.
Ashby school district will receive $641 per pupil through 2013 seeing an increase from $8,912 to $9,553. Hancock will receive an increase of $765 increasing per pupil funding from $8,624 to $9,389. Morris schools will receive additional funding of $558 through 2013, seeing an increase from $8,541 to $9,099. Chokio-Alberta school district will see an increase of $621 per pupil making total funding jump from $11,591 to $12,212.
Herman-Norcross school district will receive an additional $934 per pupil through 2013, increasing from $12,093 in 2011 to 13,027 in 2013. West Central Area will receive an additional $873 per pupil through 2013, increasing from $9,120 in 2011 to $9,993 by 2013. Clinton-Graceville-Beardsley school district will receive an additional $633 through 2013 seeing an increase from $10,303 in 2011 to $10,963 in 2013.
The education shift means that schools will get paid their aid payments from the state over 27 months instead of 24. This needs to come to an end when the state is not in a deficit, which has consistently happened with previous deficits the state has experienced.
A new initiative in the final budget signed by Governor Dayton includes a new formula to improve funding fairness between rural and metro schools. Our school districts in Greater Minnesota will benefit from this in enormous ways, by receiving funding that goes directly to students’ education costs.
Minnesota also makes available an education tax credit/deduction program. If you have children in grades K-12, you may be eligible for a refundable tax credit of up to $1,000 per child.
So what types of things can you take the credit for? Eligible expenses include money spent on tutoring, academic summer camps, after-school enrichment programs, music lessons, textbooks including instructional materials and supplies, musical instrument rental and purchase, transportation paid to others for transporting children to school. Private school tuition cannot be included for the credit.
You can find more information at www.taxes.state.mn.us.
Westrom can be reached at the Capitol by calling (651) 296-4929 or 1-800-711-2620, and by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. His office is located at 443 State Office Building, 100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55155.