School Funding Options Examined in Recent Report


Iowa School Foundation Formula Task Force Issues Report

Group offers alternatives to create more equity and transparency for school funding

The Iowa School Foundation Formula Task Force released a report containing an analysis of Iowa’s current school funding formula. The report examines equitable--or inequitable--portions of the existing policy and procedures and gives many options for how these issues could be resolved. This effort is in anticipation of the Iowa Legislature’s statutorily required review of the school funding formula after the 2014 legislative session.

The task force was created in 2012 by the Iowa Association of School Boards to identify elements of Iowa’s school funding formula that could be simplified and made more transparent. The group was also asked to provide a comprehensive analysis of the different options available to address the current funding disparities. The report issued this week is the culmination of the group’s research. The next steps will be to share the information with key legislative leaders who can use the information to improve policies.

The current funding policy used to make up the bulk public school budgets involves a complex system of formulas for determining cost per student, weighted numbers for higher-need learners and supplemental funding. This results in inequity issues for how funds are divided among public school districts and area education agencies to provide quality education for Iowa’s students. Equity is defined in the report as an equal distribution of resources for schooling, taking into account student differences and school district characteristics. The full report is available here.

The Iowa School Foundation Formula Task Force is comprised of representatives from six educational organizations as well as state officials. The six organizations are the Iowa Association of School Boards, the School Administrators of Iowa, the Iowa Association of School Business Officers, the Iowa State Education Association, Area Education Agencies and the Urban Education Network. Officials from the Iowa Department of Management, the Iowa Department of Education, and the Legislative Services Agency also served as representatives and resources.