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It's unclear what shutdown will mean for some school programs

The briefest of notes today concerning the state government shutdown and education. While the shuttering of state government probably won’t stop many Minnesota school districts from continuing with summer programming — charters are likely to be another story--it’s going to be tricky to figure out what things look like going forth.

As of this morning, the Minnesota Department of Education is staffed by the equivalent of six full-time employees who are fulfilling functions deemed mandatory by state courts. They include personnel who handle state aid payments and mandatory reporting of maltreatment of minors.

“Yesterday, Ramsey County District Court Chief Judge Kathleen Gearin ordered the payment of state education aids with open or standing appropriations for FY 2012,” a statement on the agency’s website explained. “General education aid, property tax credits, and debt service equalization aid will be paid to school districts, charter schools and cooperatives, with the first payment for FY 2012 being made on July 15.

“In the absence of legislation appropriating funds for state education aids and funding MDE operations, no other state or federal aids will be paid by MDE to school districts, charter schools, libraries, and nonprofits for the next biennium, unless determined by the courts to be critical,” the statement added.

The department’s website will not be updated and school districts will not be able to make required, automated reports of attendance, special ed and health and safety information. Teachers may not renew their licenses and testing data — results of this year’s Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments had been delivered to districts but not released to the public — will not be reported.

Things are markedly worse on the early childhood ed front. Parents with state childcare subsidies lost them at midnight. These are, of course, those most fragile families who are often clinging to a hard-won hourly wage job that’s not likely to offer them the flexibility to cope without drastic consequences. And early educators are likely to suffer, too, as no kids means no work.

Check back. We have reporting in the pipeline that will describe the shutdown’s impact going forward.

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