There was no agreed-upon supplemental spending bill for Education this year. Both the Senate and House passed bills that looked very different from one another.
The Senate wanted to put more money toward:
- "The Special Education Cross Subsidy" which is the amount of money schools must shift from other areas in order to meet state and federal requirements to serve students with special needs
- Literacy programs at several different levels of the educational system all targeting an increase in literacy at the grade school to middle school level.
The House wanted to
- create a voluntary prekindergarten program for eligible 4-year-olds from low-income families
- expand many early education programs, require early childhood developmental screening, and early childhood family education, with home visitation;
- Like the Senate, they also wanted to increase Special Education cross-subsidy aid
- require instruction in ethnic studies;
- prioritize alternative student discipline provisions;
- require at least one hour of programming to mark Indigenous Peoples’ Day, which would replace Columbus Day as a state holiday;
- institute new policies to empower American Indian students; and
- amend the student bullying statute requiring school boards to address malicious and sadistic conduct.
During the negotiations, the House tried to bring up a provision to make seasonal and part-time educational system workers like bus drivers and para-professionals eligible for unemployment during the summer months. This was an item that they tried to get by holding up the unemployment insurance fund replenishment bill but eventually, they gave that up and the provision made an appearance at the negotiating table for Education. It was a non-starter.
To get a sense of what the negotiations were like here are some of the Senate's offer letters
Chamberlain complained that the House would not focus on what they agreed on, namely the Special Ed Cross Subsidy, and instead wanted some of every one of their proposals in the bill. Hostility only grew between the conferees with House Chair Davnie holding a press conference with a school counselor from Senate Chair Chamberlain's district to complain about the lack of funding for Mental Health.