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THE CLOCK IS TICKING…

After the House spent nearly a full week debating a bill that doesn’t have any chance of becoming law, I had hoped the House would get focused on jobs and a highly skilled workforce.| (From Rep. Sharon Steckman)

ï After the House spent nearly a full week debating a bill that doesn’t have any chance of becoming law, I had hoped the House would get focused on jobs and a highly skilled workforce. Unfortunately, our debate schedule has focused on bills that won’t create jobs or improve Iowans’ daily lives.
ï One of our pressing issues right now is setting the amount of state funding for schools to build their budgets for the next school year. School districts must have their budgets set in less than a month and the Legislature still hasn’t given them an answer on how much state funding they will receive.

ï I am advocating a modest, responsible plan of 2 percent allowable growth. The largest share of funding from the state is still in limbo with schools planning for the worst case scenario – zero growth next year. This will mean larger class sizes, teacher layoffs, and higher property taxes.

ï A survey, with 2/3 of superintendents responding, indicated that their top two budget-cutting choices would be to lay off para-professionals and teachers. During a recent debate, I spoke to the fact that we need to prioritize this issue and get it done.

ï Instead of working to find resources and provide some financial stability for schools, the House majority insisted on debating several bills that won’t do anything to raise the bar in education and will not be taken up in Senate. The bills allowed homeschooled kids to skip certified driver’s education; allowed parents who homeschool to teach up to four more unrelated kids without any additional certification; and allowed private schools to operate without being accredited, but still let them draw on public funds for some purposes.

ï Despite plans to provide zero growth for schools next year and to end quality preschool, I was very disappointed to learn that Governor Branstad requested donations of up to $15,000 from education groups to sponsor his education summit this summer.

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