SAI Legislative Priorities for 2019
Supplemental State Aid
Due to low levels of funding growth, averaging less than 1.7 percent per year over the past eight years, school districts in Iowa are under tremendous financial pressures. The critical labor shortage districts are facing is increasing the cost of doing business and exacerbating district financial stress. For the 2019-20 school year (FY20) we support an increase in SSA that provides adequate resources for students and teachers, is timely and equitable, takes into account overall state revenue growth, and is substantially greater than the 1.7 percent average for the past eight years.
Any increase should not be calculated by including categorical funding. Categorical funding should be increased at the same rate as Supplemental State Aid.
We support the removal of the SAVE sunset. The extension of this revenue source is urgently needed for this funding to successfully address school district facility needs. The resources for this program should not be diverted for any other uses by the Legislature and/or Executive Branch. SAVE has provided school districts with a means to mitigate property tax increases and in many instances lower local property taxes. Removal of the sunset will enable school districts to continue with these successes. The Iowa House voted 95-3 for passage of a 20-year extension during the 2018 session, showing widespread support for this funding stream. Numerous newspaper outlets have also come out in support. It’s time for the Legislature to extend SAVE for the benefit of ALL districts.
School Transportation Equity/Per-Pupil 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.
We also support equalizing the per-pupil funding school districts receive, so that all districts receive the same dollar-per-pupil amount. Any changes should NOT include a reduction in per-pupil allocations to districts.
The 2018 Legislature took an important first step on this issue with one-time transportation funding and a $5 increase in per pupil for districts on the low end of the per-pupil amount, but much work remains if we truly aspire for equity among school districts.
Teacher shortages in Iowa are increasingly impacting hard-to-fill positions such as Industrial Technology, Foreign Languages, Math, Science, Special Education, etc. We support allowing prospective teachers who have not yet met the Praxis requirements to be allowed to teach on a one-year waiver. This would be contingent on them meeting all other requirements for a license and passage of the Praxis at some point before a contract extension is completed. We also support granting a provisional license to certified teachers seeking to relocate to Iowa, who have passed a Praxis exam in another state. Additionally, establishing permanent cut scores for passage, rather than relying on yearly shifting percentile ranks, would be beneficial. If legislation were passed, it would be beneficial for it to become effective immediately upon signing.
The teacher shortage areas are becoming critical. It’s time for the Legislature and governor’s office to take leadership in addressing this rapidly developing crisis for our students and schools. Teacher recruitment to our university and college prep programs, incentives for teachers entering critical shortage areas, along with emergency exceptions for IPERS rules for retirees in shortage areas should all be considered.
We support the IPERS program as a defined benefit program for Iowa Public Employees. At a time when fewer and fewer individuals are choosing education as a career, it is imperative that the state support benefit programs that encourage individuals to choose a career in education and enable school districts to effectively recruit teachers from both in and outside of Iowa.
We support state policy that identifies options and provides wrap-around resources for school districts and accredited non-public schools to address the complex issues of student suicide and other serious mental health-related issues for students.
Whole Grade Sharing
We support the extension of whole-grade sharing incentives beyond 2020.
We support the removal of the new Chapter 279 requirement that all administrators new to their position automatically have to serve a three-year probation period. We believe each local board should have the authority to determine a probation period that works for its respective district.
We are opposed to any and all forms of voucher programs/additional public funds appropriated to private school uses. The $50 million already directed toward private education should be a sufficient amount of public support for private education.
Additional Legislative Information