Area School Funding Issues Return

Iowa lawmakers are barely in the doors of the 2020 legislative session this week and already, school funding has become a key topic. The state has increased spending for K-through-12 students in recent years, but area superintendents, school boards, and education advocates are convinced state leaders could be doing more. The past few school-funding increases have been between one and two percent.

Area superintendents and school boards are looking for more funding because of several increased costs. The districts have to meet these costs with whatever funding is provided.

Roark Horn, executive director of School Administrators of Iowa, says people in charge of the school districts are telling him that isn’t enough to keep up with their annual costs.

Horn’s group is asking for a 3.75% increase in state funding to help with those rising expenses. In a statement, Governor Kim Reynolds says she’ll propose a two-and-a-half percent hike but declined to say whether she’d endorse anything beyond that amount. She says her increase builds on “historic investments in K-through-12 funding. But those who want to see more school spending say that can be misleading – since recent hikes don’t match with inflation.

Horn says local school administrators realize that what the governor is proposing is a larger increase than what they’ve seen in recent years. But they still feel they owe it to students and parents to ask for more.

After accounting for salaries, he adds, most local districts only have about 20% of their funds left to deal with extra but important costs, such as health insurance and facilities. He says cutting into salaries, which are negotiated, is hard because they want to attract quality teachers.