Dayton adds school counselors to budget wish list

Gov. Mark Dayton has revised his supplemental budget proposal to include an additional $53 million in education spending.

In a letter Wednesday to House Speaker Kurt Daudt and Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, Dayton said he wants $13 million for a state grant program to help school districts hire more counselors, nurses and other student support staff. He said the grants would alleviate current shortages and decrease caseloads.

“Our students deserve no less,” Dayton wrote.

The DFL governor also wants $40 million to help school districts add classroom space for the universal preschool program he’s been championing. He said the grants would support site preparation, renovation, construction and leases.

“These additional investments are critical for ensuring that we are able to create greater opportunity for all kids across Minnesota and help more kids succeed in school and in life,” he said.

The money Dayton wants to spend comes from the early repayment of some school district loans. Lawmakers in the House and Senate already booked that money in their supplemental spending bills for education. The governor did not have that money in his earlier budget proposal.