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Timely School Funding Approved in Senate

February 19, 2016
Steve Sodders - IA State Senator , Traer Star-Clipper

For more than 20 years, Iowa's law has put local school funding first when developing the state budget for the next fiscal year. That way, school officials know 18 months in advance how much money they'll have to keep the lights on, gas up the buses, purchase up-to-date textbooks, pay employees and cover other basics.

The Iowa Senate followed the law this week by approving a 4 percent increase in basic state aid to K12 schools for 2017-18. Assuming a 4 percent increase for the 2016-17 school year, which we are still working to finalize, Senate File 2093 would increase school funding by $188.7 million for 2017-18, giving schools $268 more per student.

Our goal is to reverse the trend that has dropped Iowa to 35th in the nation when it comes to how much we invest in each student. Iowa should at least be at the national average. During the last five years, the amount Iowa has invests in each student has grown by only $6 after inflation. That's $1.20 a year-not enough for our local schools to provide technology improvements and up-to-date textbooks, or to keep class sizes down so that students get the personal attention they need.

We don't want a repeat of last year, when an education compromise was finally approved in June with less than a month to spare before the start of the next fiscal year. Governor Branstad then vetoed a big chunk of that funding on July 2, two days into the new fiscal year.

The struggle to provide sufficient and timely funding has put local schools in a bind time and again. Unfortunately, neither Governor Branstad nor the Republican leaders of the Iowa House has proposed any increase in funding for schools for 2017-18.

As Iowa's financial support for students relative to other states has fallen, so has our academic progress compared to other states. Iowa schools have held steady, but other states are investing more and performing better as a result.

 
 

 

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