School officials say Dayton's education budget falls short

Gov. Dayton's two-year budget plan doesn't offer enough to parts of the state's education budget, some school officials complained Tuesday.

Dayton's $42 billion budget increases funding for preschools, K-12 schools and higher education by $511 million. A $174 million increase to the state's per-pupil funding formula amounts to a 1 percent increase in each of the next two years.

But that doesn't cover schools inflationary costs, said Scott Croonquist, executive director of the Association of Metropolitan School Districts.

"It really wouldn't allow us to make up for some of the underfunding in previous years," he said. "But it would certainly put us in a better place of avoiding budget cuts in the next couple years."

Croonquist said school districts need at least a two percent increase in each year of the budget to keep up with inflation. He said he hopes the Legislature is also able to come up with more money for school building repairs and the new statewide teacher evaluation system.

"We think the Governor's proposal is a good, solid start and we're hoping the Legislature will be able to build on it," he said. "Hopefully we'll get some good news in the next budget forecast and we can do a little better on the formula."