The Iowa House pushed through Gov. Terry Branstad’s education reform package on a party-line vote this week, including included setting allowable growth for state school district budgets at 2 percent.
But Cedar Rapids school leaders say they need more. “Our state legislators and the governor are sparring over whether or not to provide allowable growth for Iowa schools, how much to provide, and when is the right time to decide, because they are also considering significant education reform,” said a column published this week from Cedar Rapids superintendent Dave Benson and school board president Mary Meisterling. “Both the amount of funding and the timing of it are critical to the Cedar Rapids Community School District.
“The Legislature is nearly one year late in setting the allowable growth rate for next school year,” the column continues. “Schools need to know ASAP how much funding they will receive. Allowable growth is the amount of money per student the Legislature sets annually. The limitation serves as a ceiling on school budgets. Since the amount is per student, school districts with declining enrollment suffer reduced resources when allowable growth is low or zero.
“… the Legislature and governor are debating education reform, which will take a long time to be defined and implemented. There is little or no money for schools in the earliest years of reform. Our school district will actively engage in reform with energy and hard work, wanting our system to best support the success of every student.
“As the hard work of reform takes place at both the state and local level, however, we can’t continue to reduce teachers, leave positions unfilled and bar student access to good programs,” the column concludes. “Legislators and Gov. Branstad, please approve 4 percent allowable growth quickly and put aside partisan politics in reforming our school system for the benefit of all Iowa’s students.”
Other school district leaders also say such an increase is overdue. Do you agree? Should the state approve and fund 4 percent growth in school district budgets?