Des Moines, Iowa — House Republicans are proposing a $106 million increase in general state aid to public schools for the next academic year. That’s a three percent increase and it’s higher than Governor Reynolds and Republicans in the state senate have proposed. Margaret Buckton, a lobbyist for the Urban Education Network and the Rural School Advocates of Iowa, says it would be the second highest increase for public schools in 14 years.
Buckton says schools with decreasing enrollment will be able to keep classroom teachers, but may have to cut the most expensive programs, like apprenticeships and fine arts. Dave Daughton, a lobbyist for the School Administrators of Iowa, says a five percent increase would maintain services.
Over half of Iowa school districts have declining enrollment. Republican Representative Craig Johnson of Independence says the bill will be approved soon, to give school boards time to complete budget plans by April 15th.
The House GOP’s proposed funding increase for Iowa’s public school districts is roughly equal to the amount of money lawmakers expect private school parents will get in the coming year. The state-funded Education Savings Accounts will be available to low income parents who enroll a child in private school this fall.