One year ago I began contemplating a run for the Iowa Senate. As I deliberated about the issues, I discussed this decision with my family and friends. My thoughts kept returning to issues I encounter as a member of the Linn-Mar School Board and the Marion Planning and Zoning Commission.
One predicament seemed to arise annually and is frustrating because it’s easily avoidable: the consistently delayed funding decisions by the Iowa Legislature. A predictable, sustainable funding level is important for Iowa school districts. Such a formula would allow school administrators to make decisions strategically and confidently. As your State Senator, I will work every day to ensure we have a fair and stable funding formula that provides school districts with predictability and adequate funding and returns some local control of our tax dollars back to school boards, who know best what their communities, families, and students need.
A second concern of mine is broken promises made by the legislature. A delayed decision regarding school funding is bad, but an unsustainable decision made on time, and then revoked months later, is even worse. Districts make decisions based on funding commitments from Des Moines and when cuts are made after the fact that disrupts plans for the school year, sends administrators scrambling to remake their budgets, and sticks property taxpayers with the bill. Depoliticizing school funding will enable us to make timely decisions that our school districts can depend on.
Another education issue I’ll tackle is the “skills gap”. I hear about this often from parents and business leaders I have talked with throughout my district. They have jobs to fill but cannot find workers with the ability to fill them; closing these gaps benefits employees, employers, and our communities. We need to partner our local school districts with area businesses and equip students with trades skills, vocational training, and other hands-on curricular opportunities before they graduate. Doing so will allow students to explore a variety of career paths and compete in the global economy.
My education plan establishes timely, adequate, and sustainable school funding, empowers school boards and taxpayers with more decision-making authority, and offers students additional opportunities to engage while preparing them to maximize their full potential. I ask for your vote this November for the State Senate so that together, we can make Iowa schools the best in the nation.
• More information: ReneForIowaSenate@gmail.com; Web site