Public Weighs In On Governor’s AEA Overhaul

Statewide Iowa – Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds is urging legislators to advance her plan to overhaul the state’s Area Education Agencies.

Reynolds says test scores show students with disabilities aren’t being served well by the AEAs. The governor spoke with reporters just before hour-long hearings Wednesday in the Iowa House and Senate on her bill. Key House Republicans say there’s still a need for more discussions before the bill is ready for a committee vote. The bill did clear a SENATE subcommittee, but Republican Senator Ken Rozenboom of Oskaloosa says legislators need to find answers to questions that have been raised.

Okoboji Superintendent Todd Abrahamson says he supports giving school districts the federal, state and property tax money that’s currently being forwarded to the AEAs, so his district can hire its own staff.

Council Bluffs Superintendent Vicki Murrilo says the governor’s plan will transform an outdated system.

Waukee Superintendent Brad Buck, the former director of the Iowa Department of Education, says the bill will create winners and losers.

Dan Daughton, a former principal and superintendent, is a lobbyist for the School Administrators of Iowa and Rural School Advocates of Iowa — groups that oppose the bill.

Others who testified urged lawmakers to hit the pause button. Deb Davis, a member of the Johnston School Board, says if the bill is rushed through, there could be unintended consequences.

Suzanne Costello of Kellogg is the parent of a child with learning disabilities including dyslexia who she says has been helped by the local AEA. She doubts small schools will be able to hire professional staff.

Representatives of Iowans for Tax Relief, Americans for Prosperity and the Iowa Manufactured Housing Association urged legislators to ratify the governor’s changes, which would reduce property taxes by 33 million dollars.

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