New fuel for schools

State Rep. Peter Fischer
District 43A

This week, students at K-12 schools and college campuses throughout Minnesota are kicking off a new year that is sure to be full of learning, growth, and achievement.

Thanks to the new state budget passed by the DFL-led legislature, our children have new tools and resources to help them reach their full potential.

For example, every public school will receive a funding increase in each of the next two years. This year, funding for our local North St. Paul-Maplewood-Oakdale school district went up by over $1.7 million, or $163 per student. Next year, funding will increase by over $5.6 million, or $549 per student. Those kinds of resources combined with new and improved student testing and assessments are a recipe for academic success.

In terms of Minnesota’s youngest learners, our budget provides scholarships to help 8,000 additional low-income families send their children to preschool. And starting in 2014, every child will have access to all-day Kindergarten free of charge.

For school districts like ours that already offer free Kindergarten, this means more resources can be reallocated to other needs. For school districts that don’t, parents will see significant savings on tuition — as much as $4,100 in some districts.

In addition, relief is on the way for young adults and parents paying for a college education. After a decade of tuition hikes due to cuts to higher education funding, our budget freezes undergraduate tuition for students attending the University of Minnesota and MnSCU system for the next two years. Plus, we expanded state financial aid for all students, whether you’re attending a public or private institution. We need to do more to bring down the cost of a post-secondary degree, but we certainly took a major step in the right direction towards greater college affordability.

All of these investments in our children’s education are designed to build a highly educated workforce that can compete in a global economy and attract and retain major employers here in Minnesota. Thanks to our new budget, I’m confident our state is headed on the path towards economic growth and shared prosperity.

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