A two-percent increase in the basic amount schools get for each student would cost around $300 million a year. Pawlenty told school board members he recognizes that school costs for fuel, salaries and health insurance are going up.
“I concede the reality, we have got to get you more money, we got to get you at least inflation and hopefully better, particularly when you look at all the variables. But we have a system where we are always in crisis.”
Pawlenty suggested that one factor for the constant school funding crunch is that school leaders can’t do much to control costs. The biggest expense for schools is salaries and health insurance for teachers and staff. Pawlenty says he doesn’t think teachers make too much money, but he has pushed for an alternative way of paying teachers. His Q Comp performance pay program is voluntary for districts, and 34 districts have signed up so far.
Pawlenty told school board members that while he supports early childhood education, he’s not sure the state should require every school district to offer all-day kindergarten. DFL legislative leaders have called for statewide all-day K, at a cost of $160 million a year.