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Iowa Public Education Coalition Urges Iowa Legislature to Abide by Law, Set School Funding, Support World-Class Schools

Des Moines, IA (Feb. 14, 2014) - The Iowa Public Education Coalition regrets the Iowa House of Representatives' lack of action and its refusal to abide by Iowa law, which requires the Iowa Legislature to set school funding within 30 days of when the governor's budget is released.

Governor Branstad presented his budget January 14, which then required the legislature to approve FY 2016 education funding by Thursday, February 13. The Senate passed a bill granting a 6% supplemental state aid (SSA) for FY 2016 (formerly known as allowable growth) for public schools on February 5. However, the House failed to comply with Iowa law and allowed the deadline to pass without action. Yesterday, the House voted along party lines to repeal the law that requires school funding to be set within 30 days of submission of the governor's budget. The House continues to state it will wait until the 2015 legislative session to approve FY 2016 funding.

"School districts need to know the amount of state aid in order to plan their budgets, conduct salary negotiations, purchase curriculum, in addition to a host of other expenses. The law was originally created to give districts a minimum of 18 months to plan and prepare before they must submit their budgets for certification on April 15. By waiting until at least next February to set the funding, districts will be forced to guess at their ability to cover contracts and support programs," Dan Smith, Executive Director of the School Administrators of Iowa, said.

"The legislature is putting schools in a bind by not adhering to the law. If they do as the House and governor are saying they will, and wait until mid-February 2015 to set the funding rates, districts will have only a few weeks to prepare a full year's budget, set 10-20 days public notice as required by law, have the school board approve and certify it. The law was created to ensure districts could carefully and economically plan their use of public funds for the benefit of educating Iowa students. By failing to comply with the law, legislators are making that impossible," Tom Downs, Executive Director of the Iowa Association of School Boards, said.

"The legislature has a history of not approving supplemental state aid upon starting a session. Historically they have waited until much later in the legislative session, including as late as June 30, the last day of the fiscal year, to pass state aid, which is one day before the new school fiscal year begins. That type of budgeting is an impossible constraint for schools to make good decisions that benefit Iowa children-teachers get pink slipped, contracts don't get negotiated, purchases are delayed and sound budgeting principles just fly out the window," Tammy Wawro, President of the Iowa State Education Association, said.

"We have the potential for ground-breaking education reform with the new teacher leadership and compensation plans for which schools have invested lots of time and energy preparing, beginning next year. Uncertainty about our funding levels will thwart our efforts at school improvement, making world-class schools that our governor and by-partisan legislature approved last year. No wonder other states are improving outcomes fro their students, since the national average expenditure per student is $1,514 above Iowa's expenditure level, now ranked 37th in the nations," Dave Benson, Chair of the Urban Education Network and Superintendent of Cedar Rapids Schools, said.

"The Area Education Agencies of Iowa are up to the task of supporting meaningful and challenging school improvement and helping schools education many of Iowa's neediest children. We can't do the work without the resources. We support full and timely funding of the education system along with our K-12 partners," Brent Siegrist, Executive Director of Iowa AEAs, said.

The Iowa Public Education Coalition is made up of educational organizations across Iowa who advocate for adequate and timely public school funding. The group includes the Iowa Association of School Boards, the School Administrators of Iowa, the Iowa Area Education Associations, the Iowa State Education Association, and the Urban Education Network of Iowa.

Access weekly education funding facts, published by the Coalition, here.

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IASB is a private, nonprofit organization representing Iowa's 346 school districts, 9 area education agencies and 15 community colleges.

Tracy Bainter
Communications Director
(800) 795-4272 Ext. 236
(515) 247-7036




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