Government

Governor Reynolds signs education bill

Schools will see 1 percent increase in 2018-19

Credit: Iowa Governor’s Office. 

Gov. Kim Reynolds signs Senate File 455 on Thursday at Central High School in Davenport. The bill begins to address funding inequitieis in the school funding formula, which has impacted the Davenport district in particular.
Credit: Iowa Governor’s Office. Gov. Kim Reynolds signs Senate File 455 on Thursday at Central High School in Davenport. The bill begins to address funding inequitieis in the school funding formula, which has impacted the Davenport district in particular.

DES MOINES — Iowa school districts will get a 1 percent increase in supplemental state aid — about $67 per student — under a bill signed into law by Gov. Kim Reynolds this week.

The $32 million boost in state funding for K-12 schools will increase the per-pupil investment from the current $6,664 to $6,731 for fiscal 2019.

At 1 percent, 183 of the state’s 333 school districts will be on the budget guarantee that means the state will backfill property taxes.

House File 2230 — which passed the Iowa House, 57-40, and the Iowa Senate, 28-21 — stalled for a time while majority Republicans worked to resolve differences. The delay caused the Legislature to miss its self-imposed deadline of setting the school aid funding level within 30 days after the governor presented her budget Jan. 10.

Reynolds signed the school aid legislation in Des Moines on Wednesday and then signed Senate File 455 in Davenport on Thursday, where she also made a campaign stop.

In the Senate bill, legislators agreed to make a one-year commitment of $11.2 million for busing students to and from school and also devote $2.8 million to addressing an inequity in per-pupil funding.

“Investing in Iowa students is the most significant commitment we make together across our great state,” Reynolds said during the bill-signing ceremony Thursday at Central High School in Davenport.

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Reynolds said the bill was an “important step” in addressing an inequity in the school funding formula, where a handful of school districts can spend $175 more per student than others — an inequity that has drawn complaints from the Davenport school district, in particular.

The $2.8 million will narrow the inequity by $5. But it will mean relatively little money to the Davenport district.

Davenport Superintendent Art Tate led the district in spending more than the authorized amount, which prompted the state Department of Education to file an ethics complaint against him. The complaint is pending.

Most of the additional funding from the bill will go to property tax relief, according to the district, with only about $14,000 going to authorized spending.

Still, backers of the bill, including Davenport school officials, say the legislation is a first step and an acknowledgement the inequity exists and needs to be resolved.

Ed Tibbetts of the Quad-City Times contributed to this report.

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