Continuing the progress in education from last year, the Iowa House today approved a $222, or 4 percent, increase in per pupil state aid to schools for the 2009-2010 school year. Called allowable growth, the Legislature must set the rate 18 months in advance so school districts can plan their budgets.

“This is just the first piece of good news for schools this year. We will continue the progress we’ve made in education by expanding our preschool initiative, bringing teacher pay to 25th in the nation, and keeping higher education affordable for Iowa families,” said State Representative Roger Wendt, D-Sioux City, who chairs the House Education Committee.

House File 2140 increases state aid by 4 percent, which means an additional $112.6 million for school districts and will bring state spending per pupil to $5,768. Last year, the Legislature also set the growth in state aid at 4 percent for the school year that begins in fall 2008, which set the state cost per pupil at $5,546.

“For the first time, this bill also includes the new preschool foundation aid for school districts. Approved with bi-partisan support last year, the new preschool initiative will ensure 90% of four year olds have access to quality, affordable preschool in the next three years,” added State Representative Andrew Wenthe, D-Hawkeye, and vice-chair of the Education Appropriations Committee.

State funding towards education – including higher education – makes up about 60% of the state budget. In additional to state aid, local school districts receive state funding for the student achievement/teacher quality initiative, early childhood education, class size reduction and reading improvement initiatives, transportation costs, and others.

The bill now goes to the Senate.