Minn. education officials brace for cutsby Tim Post, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Minnesota's education officials are bracing for budget cuts.
Governor Tim Pawlenty will announce his plan to fix the state's projected $4.8 billion deficit later today, and says it will include "difficult cuts".
Robert Bruininks, president of the University of Minnesota, is prepared for a big cut in state funding for his school.
"We need to do our part, we need to reduce our budget, and we need to do things in a better and smarter way. But I hope the budget cuts are not disproportionate and severe," Bruininks said.
Governor Pawlenty has proposed a tuition cap at the University of Minnesota and the state's MnSCU schools.
Both systems are opposed to the cap. They say raising tuition is a last resort, but the move would hamper their efforts to deal with a decrease in state funding.
One funding source he will likely increase is K-12 education.
Pawlenty wants to further expand his performance-based teacher pay initiative Q-Comp, and provide a similar financial incentive to high-performing schools.
Tom Dooher, the president of the teachers' union Education Minnesota, said teachers fear Pawlenty's plan will mean struggling schools will not get the funding they need.
"It would be like as a teacher in the classroom if I only paid attention to those that were doing well and ignored the students that were struggling. That's not right and it's not fair, and the same thing is for funding. We need to make sure that we have funding and opportunities for all our kids so that we can close the achievement gap and that we can help our schools be ready for the 21st Century," Dooher said.
During his recent State of the State address, Pawlenty proposed increasing funding up to two percent for schools where students are meeting standards or show growth towards achievement.