School funding delay threatens student achievement

school fundingState funding for our local schools remains undecided, even after a fourth meeting this week of the special legislative committee charged with finding a compromise between the House and the Senate.

At the most recent meeting, House Speaker Kraig Paulsen of Hiawatha insisted on setting state aid for the 2015-16 school year at 1.25 percent, but his motion failed on a tie vote. All the Republican members of the committee supported the Speaker’s meager proposal; all Democrats voted against it.

We’ve got to get past the gridlock. Students, parents, teachers, administrators and other concerned Iowans are counting on us. They say that local school boards are making critical budget decisions now. Schools will have to cut staff and teachers, stuff more students into classrooms, and reduce educational and extracurricular offerings if they don’t get more than a 1.25 percent increase in state funding.

Woodbury Central Community School officials said their local schools need more.

Superintendent Doug Glackin told a Sioux City TV station: “When we started cutting, we were cutting the fat, and then we got a 0% allowable growth in fiscal year 2011-2012 and then we started cutting the bacon. If we get to 1.25%, we’ll be cutting into the rib meat and into the loin pretty soon, and that’s never good.”

Clear Lake Superintendent Anita Micich has told the local newspaper: “You cannot starve the schools in Iowa and expect to have world-class (education) continue.”

It’s not just smaller, rural school districts. Ankeny is among the largest school districts in the state. Their school board president said that “1.25 percent is irresponsible. We’re at the point where we are cutting programming and looking at class sizes.”

If your local schools are making these same tough budget decisions, please contact us so that we can share your concerns with conference committee members as they hammer out a final decision.

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