With the Governor’s signature on this year’s K12 education budget June 29, coupled with the Minnesota Department of Education announcement of how it will use $125.4 million in federal American Rescue Plan funds highlight several strategies enhancing STEM education opportunities.
The 2021 session K12 budget bill, setting the education budget for the state for the 2022-2023 fiscal years, included the largest investment in the general education formula in 15 years. Within that bill is a Walz Administration provision intended to increase the breadth of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate STEM courses available to students and also participation by more diverse student populations. The provision establishes a priority for those programs offering AP’s Computer Science Principles courses. The changes require districts and charter schools to establish three year plans only once they receive grants, shifts from a per pupil amount to a flat $75,000 grant amount to support smaller schools being able to utilize the grants, and encourages the Commissioner to consider statewide geographic balance in the awarding of the grants.
June 30th the Minnesota Department of Education released its plan for allocating $125.4 million in federal American Rescue Funds under its control. This represents 9.5% of the ARP funds dedicated to education. 90% of the total education funds were directly distributed to schools and districts based on their Title 1 population.
Of the $128 million $66 million will be distributed to schools for evidence based strategies targeted at responding to learning loss. These funds will be distributed based on school’s population of historically underserved students, defined as students of color, American Indian students, low income students, students experiencing homelessness, and students receiving special education or English Language Learning services.
Importantly for STEM education advocates $4 million of ARP funds will be available as grants to schools to support expanding access to rigorous coursework defined as AP, IB, Career Technical Education, and Post-secondary Enrollment Options offerings. Schools receiving these grants will be required to report the demographics of students participating in rigorous coursework in their building.
MDE will provide $26.4 million for after school and summer enrichment programs. Half of that money will be distributed by Ignite Afterschool, the states after-school network. Of those dollars, and the monies MDE is retaining for the same purposes 50% of funds must go to community organizations and 50% of funds must go to culturally specific community organizations. After school and summer programs often include STEM opportunities and ignite has long prioritized supporting program quality in the STEM area.
The remaining ARP funds go to a variety of programs supporting students social-emotional learning, training for school staff on non-exclusionary discipline, anti-bias, and trauma informed practices, early learning, and department administration.