Our Children Our Future

children circleThe Conference Committee on school funding (SF 174 and SF 175) appears stalled with the Senate at 4% and the House at 2%, despite initial hopes of achieving a speedy decision setting the State Cost per Pupil for July 1, 2016. A clearer understanding of the cost of doing the business of school might help break the logjam. What about inflation? “A nickel ain’t worth a dime anymore,” Yogi Berra
Although change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI) might be a good indicator of inflation on the 20% of school budgets that aren’t staff, it is not a good metric for staff costs which make up 80% of school budgets. In 5 of the last 6 years, the increase in the cost per pupil has fallen short of cost increases typically experienced in schools. A 2% increase for FY 2017 would extend that trend to 6 out of the last 7 years. Timing is likewise critical; in 4 of the last 6 Sessions, the Legislature has not set the growth rate in the year preceding the budget year, as required by Iowa law. The legislature is over a year late on the
2017 decision and now beyond the deadline for 2018, too. Schools cannot afford another year of too little, too late.

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