Iowa's Per Pupil Funding is Plummeting
January 15, 2015
Iowa’s commitment to increase education funding per pupil has plummeted, as evidenced by the history below, especially since 1993 when the legislature started setting the rate each year rather than an automatic increase based on economic and inflationary factors. In several recent years, schools experienced record low increases per pupil that have not kept pace with cost increases of running the school.
Two facts evidence the support this negative impact on Iowa education in recent years:
The rate of this growth is important. Take a look at these scenarios, which assume an increase in district costs of 3.5%.
The Education Coalition calls on our Legislature and Governor to prioritize the education of Iowa children and set a 6% growth rate per student for the 2015-16 school year. Setting the 2015-16 per pupil rate needs to be done very quickly. The 2016-17 rate should be set within 30 days of the release of the Governor’s budget, returning to the practice required in Iowa law (Iowa Code 257.8). Setting the rate in advance demonstrates the priority of education, as explained by this Cedar Rapids Gazette Opinion, Feb. 6, 2014
“The not quite 20-year-old state law directs the Legislature to set state per-pupil funding two years in advance, and within 30 days of receiving a governor’s budget. The goals are pretty simple. Make school funding a top priority, give school districts ample time to plan ahead and make it less likely that critical school bucks will get tangled up in all the budgetary horse-trading that happens late in a session.”
Unfortunately, recent departures from the requirements of Iowa Code 257.8 have become the norm. Note the following instances in which the cost per pupil hasn’t been set timely as required by Iowa law:
Source: School Finance Overview Presentation to the Dec. 15, 2014, School Finance Interim Committee