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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
GRADUATION RATE SLIPS: Iowa’s high school graduation rate slipped from 91.8 percent for the Class of 2020 to 90.2 percent for the Class of 2021, according to the state education department.
“After many years of steady progress, this slight decline follows the first full school year disrupted by the pandemic,” Ann Lebo, director of the Iowa Department of Education, said in a news release. “Students transitioned between learning models while facing a multitude of challenges during the 2020-21 school year. Our focus is on the success of all students and I am proud of the work that our school partners are doing to accelerate learning and to continue to support the individual needs of their students.”
The state’s graduation rate has increased over the long-term, by 1.9 percentage points since 2011, including by 4.2 percentage points among students on low-socioeconomic households.
DISABLED VOTER ACCESS: Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate is a finalist for the National Association of Secretaries of State’s IDEAS award based on his initiative to improve voter access for Iowans with disabilities.
Pate collaborated with Disability Rights Iowa to produce the Voting Accessibility Quick Check Guide and distribute one to every polling place in the state. The booklet is a tool for precinct election officials to ensure polling places meet American Disabilities Act requirements and to quickly recognize and fix any accessibility issues that may arise on Election Day.
You can view an online version of the Voting Accessibility Quick Check Guide is available here.
RADON TESTING: The House approved House File 2412 requiring schools to establish a plan for at least one radon test in each attendance center prior to July 2027 on a 93-2 vote.
Radon is colorless, odorless and tasteless radioactive gas is produced by the natural breakdown of uranium, which is found in soil and rock throughout the United States. Radon travels through soil and enters buildings through cracks and other holes in the foundations.
All 99 Iowa counties are in the Environmental Protection Agency’s category for highest average indoor radon potential. Iowa has the highest average indoor radon concentration in the U.S. — more than six times the national average, according Rep. Ray Sorenson, R-Greenfield, and an estimated 400 Iowans die each year from radon exposure.
According to the Legislative Services Agency, the initial cost of radon testing in schools would range from $220,000 to $330,000. School districts may choose to use district employees trained in radon testing. Initial measurement specialist certification for radon testing is $275. Initial mitigation specialist certification for radon testing is $175. Training for an individual to receive both certifications is $400.
— Compiled by the Des Moines Bureau