The Iowa House made final touches on a bill to provide greater flexibility in the use of school funds. If signed by the Governor, the bill will allow the salary and benefits of security personnel, psychologists, licensed independent social workers, master of social workers, and licensed mental health counselors to be paid for with “at-risk funds”.

The bill also expands the ability of school districts to lease property to now include existing school property. It also creates greater flexibility for at-risk funds and allows a school to lease a building for an alternative energy project. Currently, a school board has to pay out a portion of the lease agreement profit to other political subdivisions. The bill would not apply for projects designed to generate electricity for a school district, such as a solar power project.

During the debate it was pointed out that school districts should have even greater flexibility in the funds that they have. However, it will not make up for another year of low funding for public schools. When adjusted for inflation, public schools have received just a $33 per student increase over eight years, which is less than 1% each year. Iowa’s per pupil funding is now $1,111 below the national average.