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«FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs): MINNESOTA’S STAFF DEVELOPMENT STATUTES Minnesota Statutes, sections 122A.60 and 122A.61 Created September 2001 ...»

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sections 122A.60 and 122A.61

Created September 2001 Updated July 2002, March 2006, February

2008, November 2010, August 2013

In response to many interpretation and implementation questions about Minnesota’s staff

development statutes, the organizations listed below have jointly developed this set of

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). The statutes discussed in this set of FAQs can be found at Minn. Stat. § 122A.60-Staff Development Program1, and Minn. Stat. § 122A.61- Reserved Revenue for Staff Development2.

Minnesota School Boards Association (MSBA) Minnesota Elementary School Principals’ Association (MESPA) Minnesota Association of Secondary School Principals (MASSP) Minnesota Rural Education Association (MREA) Education Minnesota Minnesota Association of School Administrators (MASA) Learning Forward Minnesota Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) 1A. What is the purpose of staff development?

The fundamental purpose of staff development is to improve student learning. The intent of the legislation is that schools and districts implement a site-based process for both educational goals and staff development opportunities that will best help meet these goals.

Providing teachers and other school district staff with individual and professional organizational growth and development opportunities prepares them to provide excellent educational experiences for students, and ultimately helps achieve the fundamental purpose of improving student learning.

1B. What is the appropriate use of staff development funds?

Use of staff development funds must be outlined in a board-approved plan and targeted to expenses incurred to create, implement, monitor, and evaluate that plan.

1 Find § 122A.60 at https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=122A.60 2 Find § 122A.61 at https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=122A.61 1 According to law, staff development outcomes must be consistent with local school board education goals. A district’s plan must include ongoing staff development activities that

contribute to continuous progress toward these goals:

 Improve student achievement of standards using best practice methods;

 Meet the needs of a diverse student population;

 Provide an inclusive curriculum;

 Improve staff collaboration and develop mentoring and peer coaching  programs;

 Teach and model violence prevention policy and curriculum; and  Provide site-based teams with appropriate management and financial skills.

See Minn. Stat. § 122A.60 for full language of the goals listed above.

Staff development activities may include: a) curriculum development and curriculum training programs, b) activities that provide teachers and other members of site-based teams with training to enhance team performance, c) other activities required by law,

d) activities associated with professional teacher compensation models, and e) teacher development and evaluation.

Districts may also use staff development funds for grants to teachers to pay for coursework and training leading to certification as a college in the schools or concurrent enrollment teacher. A teacher receiving such grants must be enrolled in a program that includes coursework and training focused on teaching a core subject.

[Go to FAQ 17] 1C. Are any uses prohibited?

Staff development reserved revenue may not be used for: 1) release time provided for teachers to supervise students on field trips and school activities and 2) independent tasks not associated with enhancing the teacher's knowledge and instructional skills (such as preparing report cards, calculating grades, or organizing classroom materials).

2. What revenue must be reserved for staff development activities?

Two percent of a district’s basic revenue must be reserved for staff development activities, programs, plans, and experiences, including workshops, conferences, the cost of substitute teachers, other in-service education, and other related costs. A district may, however, spend more at its own discretion.

The temporary suspension of this requirement ceased June 30, 2013.

–  –  –

Funds are allocated to staff development activities in accordance with the approved district plan. If funds remain at the end of any given year, the unspent funds are carried over by the district to be used for staff development the following year(s).

4. Who is eligible to receive staff development funding?

All staff, which means all district employees, licensed and non-licensed, qualify for staff development funding. Expenditures from site funds must also be consistent with the site plan.

5A. How are decisions made about district-wide staff development expenditures?

The local school board must establish an advisory district staff development committee to:

(1) develop a district staff development plan that is consistent with education outcomes that the board has determined, (2) assist site professional development teams in developing site plans that are consistent with the goals of the district plan, and (3) evaluate staff development efforts at the site level. The district-wide committee must be composed of a majority of teachers, representing an array of grade and subject specialties, plus special educators, non-teaching staff, parents and administrators.

The plan must be approved by the school board. The school board and the advisory district staff development committee must work together to resolve any differences.

See FAQ 5B and FAQ 9.

5B. How are decisions made about site staff development expenditures?

Each site must have a professional development team, the majority of which are teachers.

With assistance from the district committee, the site team develops a site plan that is consistent with the goals of the district-wide plan. The site team then decides how to spend the portion of the site funds allocated to the site. In making decisions, the site team must follow both the site plan and the district-wide plan approved by the board. The site team also manages any best practices grants that the board awards to the site.

5C. What happens in districts that have only one site, and what constitutes a “site”?

In smaller school districts that have only one site, the board may prefer to have one committee serve as both the district staff development committee and the site team. The committee must be careful to separate its actions as the district committee, which has advisory status, and as a site team, which has decision-making authority over the site funds.

What constitutes a site is a district decision. Sites are not necessarily defined by buildings or facilities. For example, a district’s ECFE program might be housed together with an elementary school or a secondary school, but could be defined by the district as its own

–  –  –

6. Are professional development site teams and school site decision-making teams the same thing?

Some districts have established site-based decision-making teams as part of their management structure.

These teams, which are sometimes called site councils, exist for a different purpose than the site professional development teams. Moreover, each district determines the role and authority of its site councils. The statute requires that the majority of members of site professional development teams must be teachers. This means that one group of individuals can serve as both the site professional development team and the site council or site-based decision-making team only if that group is composed of a majority of teachers.

7. Can we use staff development monies to pay salaries?

Yes, if a position is designated as full-time or part-time to engage in staff development activities, such as 1) researching or designing, 2) planning, 3) writing, 4) delivering, 5) coaching, or 6) coordinating staff development activities, that percentage may be reimbursed using staff development funding.

Staff development funds may be budgeted to pay staff development committee members for time spent planning and implementing staff development plans.

8. If the plan allows the district to spend staff development funds for salaries, costs for workshop days, or other related costs, at what point in the process does the allocation of revenue occur?

Districts must reserve 2 percent of basic revenue for staff development purposes. See FAQ 10 regarding situations under which the 2% reserve is not required. Districts and sites may then expend staff development funds from the amounts allocated to them according to the district plan.

4 9. How are best practices grants affected by the elimination of the requirement to have them?

While not specifically required by the statute, it is recommended that if the district wide plan includes or allows for their inclusion, it should include the criteria and accountability standards under which best practices grants will be judged. The criteria should be developed in keeping with the district’s overall plan for staff development. In addition, the approved plan should also identify the procedure by which each grant application will be judged. Site teams oversee any grants awarded to the site.

[ Go to FAQ 5B] 10. Are there any circumstances under which a district is not required to reserve 2 percent of basic revenue for staff development?

Districts that are in statutory operating debt (SOD) are exempt from the requirement. In addition, districts may annually waive the requirement to reserve all or any part of the 2 percent if a majority of the teachers and a majority of the school board vote to do so. The vote may occur whether or not the district committee or the site teams support the waiver.

See Appendix.

–  –  –

A school district must do more than declare it is in SOD. There is one criterion a school district must meet in order for it to officially be in SOD. The Department of Education (MDE) will deem a district to be in SOD when its net unappropriated fund balance at the end of the year (June 30) is a negative amount in excess of 2-1/2 percent of its operating expenditures. For the exact language, see Minnesota Statutes § 123B.813. For questions on your district’s status, contact Sarah Miller at MDE, Sarah.C.Miller@state.mn.us or 651What are the reporting requirements and accountability measures regarding the use and distribution of staff development monies?

Districts must report the staff development activities and use of funds to the Commissioner of Education by October 15 of each year. The report must be done online. The report must be signed by the superintendent and the staff development chair, and must include assessment and evaluation data indicating progress toward district and site goals based on teaching and learning outcomes.

3 Find § 123B.81 at https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=123B.81

5 Given that the essential goal of the staff development statutes is to improve student achievement, the reporting format requires documentation of student progress as a result of staff development efforts. The reports must describe both the different kinds of staff development costs and whether the costs were for best practices grants or were from district or site level fund allocations, according to the UFARS reporting system.

In addition, at the local level, each site team must annually demonstrate to the school board the extent to which staff at the site have met the outcomes of the staff development plan, including how best practices grants contributed to the site’s achievement of those outcomes. If the board determines that the staff development outcomes are not being met, the board may withhold a portion of the following year’s initial allocation of revenue, until such time as the board determines that they are once again being met.

Finally, the site teams, the district-wide advisory committee, and the school board are each accountable to the others to fulfill their respective obligations under the statute. Examples include: (a) the advisory committee must develop the plan and submit it to the board for review and subsequent approval; (b) with the assistance of the advisory committee, the site teams must develop a plan that is consistent with the district-wide plan; (c) the advisory committee must assist the site teams in developing their site plan, and must evaluate staff development efforts at the site level; and (d) the site teams and the board must spend the staff development funds consistent with the approved plans, keeping in mind that the district must be able to document for the commissioner the student progress that resulted from staff development efforts in the district.

[Go to FAQ 17]

13. Do employees of cooperative districts, intermediate districts, and other kinds of hybrid districts have access to staff development funds? Do state employees have access to staff development funds?

The staff development statutes do not currently apply to cooperative districts, intermediate districts, or the state, because the statutes only apply to school districts that receive “basic revenue.” As a result, the extent and nature of staff development opportunities in those districts and for state employees depend largely on the employer.

Options include working with member districts for access to their staff development programs, and including staff development in the collective bargaining agreement. More than this will require a legislative change.

14. If a district claims to or does spend more than the required 2 percent is that amount exempt from the requirements of M.S. 122A.60 and M.S. 122A.61?

Any amount above the 2 percent is exempt from the statutory requirements.

–  –  –

The staff development statutes are the highest authority. First and foremost, school board policies, the district’s staff development plan, and collective bargaining agreements cannot conflict with the statute. If a conflict exists, the statute supersedes.

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