Minnesota schools set to get funding boost for new reading approach

Minnesota schools are poised to get more money and more flexibility to boost the state’s new approach to teaching reading.

Schools have a few years to implement an evidence-based program that resembles phonics after the READ Act passed last year.

The READ Act 2.0 is making its way through the legislature this year.

It would add about $40 million to the $75 million appropriated in 2023, including money for substitute teachers or extra time for teachers to do training.

Districts could also reduce school hours for a year by a little over five hours if they use the time for teacher training.

Several school superintendents applauded the approach but said they’re struggling with the amount of funding just as a lot of districts are running up against budget shortfalls.

And smaller districts asked for more flexibility to meet their different needs.

"For example, some districts may have elementary teachers already trained in the science of teaching reading whereas a district like Royalton will embark on this work for the first time this fall," said Kristine Wehrkamp, superintendent of the Royalton Public Schools.

National education leaders say it typically takes five to ten years to fully implement big changes like this.

Most of the deadlines for the READ Act come in 2027.