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Iowa Superintendents: Additional delay in local school funding will hurt student achievement

Survey Details Negative Consequences to Iowa Classrooms
if Republicans & Governor Refuse to Take Action Quickly

DES MOINES – A new survey of Iowa superintendents released today says lawmakers should take quick action to approve an overdue increase in basic aid for schools, also called allowable growth.  179 of the 206 respondents (87%) said that aid to local schools must be set by March 1st or earlier to avoid teacher layoffs, crowded classes, and harm to student achievement.

“Iowa superintendents have spoken loud and clear.  Iowa schools can’t wait any longer for the Legislature and Governor to work together and fulfill their obligation to do what’s best for our local schools,” said Sen. Herman Quirmbach, Chair of the Senate Education Committee.  “This week, the Iowa Senate will approve a 4% increase in state funding along with additional state funds to prevent any related property tax increase. I encourage the Iowa House to likewise take speedy, responsible action to support Iowa’s K12 schools.”

Superintendents almost unanimously (99%) believe that education dollars would be used more effectively if the state returned to setting basic aid to education a year and a half in advance.  Iowa law requires this advance budgeting but Governor Branstad and the Republican House refused to follow the law last year.

The local education leaders warned that they will soon be forced to assume there will be no increase in funding for local students in the coming school year.  That will be case for 88% of the responding districts if the state has not acted by March 1st.   The survey found that the top impacts of zero percent allowable growth will be larger class sizes (72%); delays in upgrading materials (68%), and layoffs of teachers (57%) and classroom associates (51%).  The complete results of the survey can be found at

“If our goal is world class schools, we can’t shortchange our schools now and expect dramatic improvements when they are forced to lay off teachers, crowd more students into each class, and delay technology improvements that are vital to 21st Century learning,” said Rep. Sharon Steckman, Ranking Member of the House Education Committee.  “I hope Republicans and the Governor will listen to our school leaders and work with us to act quickly.  Our students, educators and parents deserve it.”

In the last 40 years, basic aid to local schools, also known as “allowable growth,” has been set at zero percent only once before.  That was in 2011, just after Republicans took control of the Iowa House and Governor Branstad returned to office.

“It’s unbelievable that the state of Iowa would treat local schools so irresponsibly at a time when the state’s budget reserves have never been larger and when we all agree on the need to improve student achievement,” said Rep. Steckman.

The Iowa Senate is expected to vote on school funding this Wednesday, January 30.