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State Legislature May Increase Area Educational Funding

Area school districts may have to settle on what the state legislature will soon send to the governor. It’s a bill to increase general state spending on Iowa’s public schools by about $106 million.

That’s House Speaker Pat Grassley. He says the House will approve that level of spending early this week, giving school boards eight weeks to finalize budget plans for the next academic year. Democrats say school districts need more to offer competitive teacher salaries and cover rising costs of fuel to heat buildings and run buses. Senator Herman Quirmbach of Ames says the state would have more to spend if Republicans hadn’t approved state-funded savings accounts for private school parents.

Due to declining enrollment and the distribution formula for general state spending on public schools, Senator Sarah Trone Garriott of West Des Moines says dozens of school districts will get less money for the next academic year.

The 34 Republicans in the Senate approved the three percent increase in general state school aid Thursday afternoon and Senator Ken Rozenboom of Oskaloosa defended the plan.

The bill also includes $900,000 more in state support for geographically large school districts that spend far more on bus routes.

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