Gov. Walz calls on legislature to pass summer learning package

Submitted photo Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan with elementary students

Governor Tim Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan visited an elementary school in Hopkins to push for the quick passage of the summer learning package in Minnesota’s COVID-19 Recovery Budget.

The $150 million plan seeks to address opportunity gaps and expands summer learning opportunities. It includes proposals for school- and community-based learning opportunities, field trips and hands-on learning, mental health support, summer preschool, and college courses for graduating seniors.  

The plan was passed by the Minnesota House in March. On Tuesday, Gov. Walz called for the Minnesota Senate to follow suit. “After a challenging year for students, I’m glad that the Minnesota House passed our education plan to help kids catch up on learning this summer,” said Gov. Walz. “With the end of the school year quickly approaching, the Minnesota Senate must finish the job and pass the summer learning plan to ensure our students are ready to conquer the school year in the fall.”

“As Minnesotans, we have a responsibility to invest in the future of all our children,” said Lt. Gov. Flanagan. “That’s why we must take immediate action to help our students make up for the lost in-person learning that so many experienced over the last year. With proposals for hands-on learning opportunities, mental health supports, summer preschool, college courses for graduating seniors, and more, the summer learning plan does just that.”

“Despite our best efforts, we know that our students experienced disruptions to their learning due to the pandemic,” said Minnesota Department of Education Commissioner Dr. Heather Mueller. “This summer is going to be a vital time for us to work on bridging some of the gaps that were exacerbated over the last year.”

MSR News Online Gov. Tim Walz with elementary school students in Hopkins

The governor’s summer learning package:

  • Expands summer 2021 programming by providing students with opportunities to catch up on learning. It dedicates $57.5 million in federal funds to expand summer programming with small class sizes and transportation for students. The proposal creates partnerships with community organizations to offer academic enrichment. The legislature must approve federal spending, which occurred earlier this legislative session.
  • Expands summer 2021 preschool for 4- and 5-year-olds by providing $20 million in one-time funding for early learners to attend a star-rated public or private preschool or pre-kindergarten in-person learning program at no cost to families. Programs may be able to extend their school year, build upon summer programs they are already offering, or offer new summer programs.
  • Expands mental health support in summer 2021 by providing $7 million to expand school-linked mental health services and provide access to well-being support at summer learning programs.
  • Supports field trips and hands-on learning in summer 2021 by providing school districts and charter schools with $10 million in supplemental one-time funding for students.
  • Accounts for pandemic enrollment loss by maintaining programming that serves all students across the state, including those who are historically underserved. The proposal would provide $25 million in one-time funding to reduce the financial hardship incurred by school districts and charter schools due to a decline in enrollment because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

More details on the Gov. Walz’s summer learning package can be found here.

In January, Gov. Walz announced Minnesota’s COVID-19 Recovery Budget—his budget proposal for the next biennium. As Minnesota continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, Walz’s budget aims to support working families, ensure students catch up on learning, and helps small businesses stay afloat while driving economic recovery.

Information provided by the Office of Gov. Tim Walz and the Office of Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan.