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Iowa Senate approves 4% school funding increase for 2014-2015

State capitol of Iowa
State capitol of Iowa

DES MOINES – The Democratically-controlled Iowa Senate approved on a party-line vote of 26-22 a 4% boost to school funding for grades K-12 for fiscal year 2014-2015.  Senate File 162 requires a 4.0% allowable growth rate to be applied to each of the regular school aid State cost per pupil amounts for FY 2015.

The fiscal impact of the bill is an increase of the State General Fund expenditure of $114.6 million (4.1%) compared to estimated fiscal year 2014. Preschool aid will increase $6.1 million (9.2%), compared to estimated FY 2014. The combined district cost (reflecting the total school aid funding level for school districts and area education agencies generated through the school aid formula), is estimated to increase $181.2 million (4.4%) compared to estimated FY 2014.

The total amount of money a school district has to spend is primarily driven by the number of children a district has.

Iowa law guarantees that every child in the state receives an “equal” amount of money to fund his/her education. A district’s budget is basically derived from the number of children enrolled in the district multiplied by the district’s cost per child. However, economic factors change from year-to-year, and it is up to state lawmakers to decide just how much to increase the cost per child to reflect that change. This increase is called “allowable growth.”

An allowable growth rate is recommended by the Governor and established by the Legislature.  The rate is multiplied by the state cost per pupil to calculate an allowable growth amount per pupil. All districts receive the same amount per pupil. Allowable growth per pupil is intended to further provide equity in school districts throughout the state because, as we discussed last week, the legislature set a principle that each child is worth the same amount, no matter where he/she lives.

Governor Branstad has not yet made his recommendation for allowable growth for next fiscal year.

The Iowa Senate previously approved a 4% allowable growth rate increase for the school year that begins on July 1, 2013.  The Iowa House, controlled by Republicans, is still debating that measure.

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