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SAI Legislative Priorities for 2017

 

Supplemental State Aid

We support a minimum growth rate of 4 percent for 2017-18 and 2018-19 for SSA and categorical funding. The Supplemental State Aid and categorical funding growth for both years must be established early in the session within the 30-day period required by the code. If the legislative deadline in the code is not followed, the rate should be automatically set at the percent of revenue growth established by the Revenue Estimating Conference at its previous year’s December meeting.

Per-Pupil Funding Equity

Since the early 1970s, there has been a disparate range of per-pupil funding provided for Iowa’s school districts. A plan should be developed by the Legislature to equalize all school district per-pupil funding levels at the highest levels within the range.

SAVE

We support the extension of the SAVE sunset for an additional 20-year period. The additional time is needed for this funding to successfully address school district facility and PPEL needs. The resources for the current SAVE program should not be diverted for any other uses by the Legislature and/or Executive Branch.

Preschool

Current preschool programming and the funding formula should be continued, and the program should be expanded statewide to include many more low-income and disadvantaged children.

Summer Learning Program

The state is requiring summer school for all third-graders not reading at grade level. It is imperative that the Legislature approves the additional ongoing funding needed to successfully implement this policy. If the summer school mandate is not funded, then the mandate must be delayed until state funding is secured. We are strongly opposed to the third-grade retention mandate in the law and believe it should be repealed. Additional state resources are needed for schools to more effectively address reading issues at the primary grade levels.

School Transportation Equity

We support legislation that addresses the inequities of transportation per-pupil costs for school districts with higher than the state average per-pupil transportation costs. The transportation equity provided must be revenue neutral for districts at or below the state average transportation costs per pupil. Any additional revenue provided by the state shall be considered categorical for the school districts receiving additional funding, and it shall not be included as part of the calculation for increases in SSA.

Assessment

We support funding by the state for the implementation and use of the Smarter Balanced Assessments by Iowa’s school districts.

Mental Health

We support state policy that identifies options and provides resources for school districts to use to address the complex issue of student suicide and other serious mental health-related issues for students.

AEA Support

We support the AEA system in Iowa, and we believe it should be funded appropriately to support students and school districts across the state.

Flexibility

We support allowing school districts, through school board action, to have the option of repurposing up to 25 percent of district categorical funding to address specific student learning needs in the district.

In addition:

●      We support additional flexibility by the BoEE for rules concerning the assessment requirement. We believe more flexibility will assist in the hiring of qualified educators for hard-to-fill positions.

●      We are opposed to vouchers or other state plans that will have a negative impact on funding levels for Iowa’s public schools.

●      When reporting the percent growth of SSA and categorical funding, care should be taken not to bundle other funding sources into the growth total to artificially inflate the number. It should reflect true growth in SSA and categorical. It should be closely aligned with the growth in the state’s revenue without subtracting any other anticipated expenditures.

●      We believe that all levels of public education in Iowa should be funded appropriately by the state.