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Steckman summarizes education funding and reform

State Rep. Sharon Steckman
State Rep. Sharon Steckman
From Rep. Sharon Steckman –

Iowa schools will receive a significant boost in state funding next year, after an agreement was reached on education reform.

Schools will get a 2% increase in funding plus $57.1 million in one-time funding for a total of $133 million for the upcoming school year, and a 4%, or $128 million increase, for the next school year. The state also picks up the total increase in school funding for the next two years, which means school funding will not raise property taxes.

Despite attempts to end the initiative by the majority party in the House, the Legislature also continued the state’s class size reduction plan for another five years. This will help keep class sizes small in kindergarten through third-grade classrooms.

House File 215 increases a teacher’s minimum salary to $33,500, with pathways for multiple teacher leadership rolls, and increased support for new teachers. Districts can choose from three teacher leadership pathway models that are funded at $311 per pupil.

The Iowa Learning On-line initiative includes professional development of teachers for usage and will provide services to 2,500 students. There is $10 million provided for high needs schools. A council on educator development will make recommendations regarding teacher and administrator evaluations.

Schools are given the option of counting their school days as 180 days or 1,080 hours. Competency-based education will support 10 districts at $425,000 for three years to develop competencies, assessments, professional development, and develop pathways statewide. An extending learning time pilot program will develop a model for student achievement.

The bill allows a nonpublic school to be accredited by an approved independent accrediting agency, instead of the board of education, for seven years. The bill also allows home school parents to teach drivers education to their children, teach up to four unrelated students, and exempt them from reporting requirements to local schools.

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