Education

As a father and former Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of the Anoka-Hennepin School District, Sen. Hoffman sees E-12 education as a critical trust, and he supports efforts to provide the best possible education for our children. He has, during the past three years:

Districts to receive $2.2 million in pre-K funding

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Thanks to the efforts of legislators like Sen. John Hoffman (DFL-Champlin) and his Senate colleagues – 3,300 four-year-olds will have a better opportunity to succeed in school this fall. This week Governor Dayton announced the schools receiving pre-K funding from the $25 million investment passed this session. Both of Sen. Hoffman’s school districts are receiving funds; the grant size and the number of students served are listed below:

District: Number of Students Served: Pre-K Funding Grant:
Anoka-Hennepin 96 $710,172
Osseo 229 $1.5 million
“I am so proud of the work we did this year – thanks to this investment thousands more Minnesota children will have a better path to success. The only thing that makes this moment bittersweet – is knowing that if additional funding had been available – we could have made this opportunity available to the 10,139 kids whose districts applied for funding, but were denied. Nevertheless, this is an important step forward for Minnesota – and I am committed to working to ensuring that ALL Minnesota kids have access to high quality pre-K programs in the future,” said Sen. Hoffman.

Anoka-Hennepin School District plans on spending its grant funding to target pre-K at two of its elementary schools with the highest poverty rates.

“We’ve had some success in closing the achievement gap over the past few years by using school readiness dollars to pay for pre-K programming. We’re experiencing around 90 percent of students who go through our pre-K program as ready for kindergarten – and these are high-risk kids. With this newest round of grant funding, we are hoping to build on that success and see more of our kids become ready for kindergarten – and succeed throughout their academic careers,” said Steve Kerr, Executive Director of Community and Government Relations at Anoka-Hennepin School District.

“Expanding access to pre-kindergarten has been one of our school district’s goals for several years. This state-funded option will dramatically accelerate our work, allowing more than 200 additional students to experience high quality pre-kindergarten programming. It will also help those students be prepared for kindergarten and on track to read at grade level by grade three – which are two of the state’s World’s Best Workforce goals,” said Dr. Kate Maquire, superintendent of Osseo Area Schools.

According to the Department of Education, 183 school districts and charter schools applied for pre-kindergarten funding this year. Due to lack of funds available, nearly 60 percent of those districts did not receive state aid.

For years, Minnesota has faced persistent achievement gaps. Studies have shown that early learning programs have impressive and long-lasting benefits for low-income students, including increased high school graduation and employment rates, and decreased incarceration rates. Leading researchers and economists have found that these outcomes yield long-term benefits of as much as $16 for every $1 invested in early learning programs.

Sen. Hoffman Fights for Equity-Based Aid for Anoka-Hennepin School District

ST. PAUL, Minn. – What began as a state-run pilot project a decade ago has grown into a system that Sen. John Hoffman (DFL-Champlin, Brooklyn Park and Coon Rapids) argues can help close the state’s achievement gap. Sen. Hoffman is chief author of a bill that invests $14 million per biennium into compensatory funding revenue, which is given to school districts based on their percentage of students on the free or reduced lunch program. The bill also makes the funding program permanent, currently it requires reauthorization every two years. The additional revenue is used by districts to help increase students achievement and test scores.

Hoffman says his bill, which received its first hearing in the Senate E-12 Finance Committee on Thursday, is about bringing equity to school districts and helping students succeed.

“We know compensatory funding works, it gives school districts with a higher proportion of kids receiving free or reduced lunch – a needed boost. By targeting money to districts that need it most to help these struggling students meet performance standards, we are slowly, but steadily closing the achievement gap and building the world’s best workforce,” said Hoffman.

Hoffman explains that compensatory funding has helped the Anoka-Hennepin School District improve student performance and work toward the goal of all students achieving passing grades. He says the district used the compensatory funding it received to invest in direct service to students and provide instructional coaching with classroom teachers for young students. He argues, his bill isn’t about giving his district new dollars, it’s about offering schools stable funding that has proven results.

“Even with the additional dollars this bill would bring schools, Anoka-Hennepin is receiving $934 less per pupil than a similar sized district. If we were to provide all districts with the same dollar amount per child the state would be looking at an investment of $174 million. My bill is a fraction of this, but it’s a really good step forward,” said Hoffman.

Higher Education and Students
Freezing College and University Tuition

Sen. Hoffman voted in support of Minnesota families and students by voting to freeze and lower tuition rates at Minnesota’s colleges and Universities in 2013 and 2015. (S.F. 1236 – 5/17/13 – Conference Report (p.3995), 4/17/13 Third Reading (p.1976) 4/20/15 – S.F. 5 (p. 2075), Conference Report 5/17/2015 (p.3689).

State Grant Program

In total, Sen. Hoffman has voted for investing over $55 million over the last four years in new funding that supports the Minnesota families and students who need the most help to afford a postsecondary degree or certificate.

Student Debt
Sen. Hoffman supported a provision that authorized the Office of Higher Education to create a student loan refinancing program for Minnesota students. The goal was to help those students with high interest loans refinance them with lower interest rates. (Supplemental Finance bill in 2014, H.F. 3172 conference committee report (p. 10395)).