Senate Democrats Endorse Four Percent Boost In State Aid For Schools

Des Moines, Iowa — Democrats in the Iowa Senate have voted to provide Iowa’s public K-through-12 schools with a four percent increase in general state support for the school year that starts this fall. Senator Tod Bowman, a Democrat from Maquoketa, says without that extra level of spending, schools will have to make “tough decisions” and cut both staff and programs.iowa state capitol sva


(as said) “I don’t want our kids…the kids of Iowa, to have any more lost opportunities,” Bowman said.

Republicans like Senator Jake Chapman of Adel say Democrats are promising more money than is available in the state budget.


(as said) “The question has to be answered,” Chapman said. “Where do you make the cuts? Where do you raise the revenue?”

Senate Democrats have now voted to forward about twice as much money as House Republicans want to spend on schools. Senator Wally Horn, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids who is a retired school teacher, says the state isn’t spending enough money on schools and student performance shows it.


(as said) “We used to be number one in the nation,” Horn says. “Now we’re almost in the bottom 25 of almost every category you can go.”

Senator Amy Sinclair, a Republican from Allerton, shot back at the idea Republicans who contend a four percent increase is too much want to short-change schools.


(as said) “It’s patently absurd to suggest that I or any of my colleagues don’t care about education because we’re concerned about the numbers for this year and for future years,” Senator Joe Bolkcom, a Democrat from Iowa City, says the state would have much more tax money to spend if legislators would “stop the tax giveaways to large, out of state corporations.”


(as said) “Our priorities are messed up here. They are wrong,” Bolkcom said. “We are putting the interests of these very large special interests in this tax code that is rigged against our kids.” Senator Randy Feenstra, a Republican from Hull, says he’s “very offended” by Bolkcom’s criticism of the commercial property tax cut legislators passed in 2013.


(as said) “Oh, ‘the ‘big, bad corporate people,'” Feenstra said. “..How about the little guy on the corner that’s trying to sell a shirt or whatever it might be? They truly appreciate the reduction in commercial property tax.”

The senate passed four bills Tuesday dealing with school financing issues. One bill would send schools four percent more general state aid for the next academic year. A second measure would increase state support in the following year by another four year percent. The other two bills would plug state tax money into school budgets, so local property taxes for schools won’t go up in each of those years.

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Sheldon Police Investigate Report Of Stolen TV

Sheldon, Iowa — Sheldon Police are investigating a possible burglary on Sixth Street.
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Officers reported that they were called to a home in the 400 block of Sixth Street on Saturday morning, February 7th, 2015.

Reported stolen was a 32-inch television, valued at $250.

Officers report that there was forcible entry, as both a door to the garage and a door to the home were damaged, causing an estimated $250 in damages.

The alleged theft is thought to have occurred sometime between Thursday, February 5th, and Saturday the 7th.


Rock Valley Man, Hull Teen Charged With Burglary Of Trinity Christian

Hull, Iowa — A Rock Valley man and a Hull teen have been charged in connection with an investigation into an alleged burglary at a school in Hull.
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The Sioux County Sheriff’s Office says that in the early hours this Wednesday, February 11, they investigated activity at Trinity Christian High School, 1811 Hayes Avenue, in Hull.

The deputies apprehended two people inside of the school. The deputies were investigating suspected burglaries, and say they caught two perpetrators in the act of committing crimes.

Twenty-five-year-old Matthew Kraayenbrink of Rock Valley and a 17-year-old Hull boy were apprehended after they allegedly unlawfully entered the school with the intention of committing criminal activity.

Deputies say Kraayenbrink was charged with second degree burglary, third degree burglary and using a juvenile to commit a criminal offense.

The boy was cited into juvenile court on a third degree burglary charge, and was released to his parents.


One Injured, One Arrested In George Incident

George, Iowa — One person was injured and another arrested after an incident in George on Saturday.
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The Lyon County Sheriff’s office reports that in the early hours of Saturday morning, their deputies responded to a call of an on-going domestic abuse situation at 207 East Calumet in George.

When Sheriff’s personnel arrived, it was determined that the victim was injured and needed medical help, so the deputy transported him to Sanford Rock Rapids Hospital.

When deputies returned, they arrested 32-year-old Caroleen Candito of George and charged her with Domestic Abuse Assault causing serious injuries, a Serious Misdemeanor.

Candito was transported to the Lyon County Jail.


‘Compromise’ Could End School Start Date Controversy

Des Moines, Iowa — The chairman of the education committee in the Iowa House believes he’s got a compromise that could end the controversy over when Iowa schools should start classes in August.
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Representative Ron Jorgensen, a Republican from Sioux City, has drafted a proposal that would require Iowa’s K-through-12 schools to start the fall semester on or after August 23rd. Jorgensen says there’s been of lot of discussion about the issue.


(as said) “Just going back and forth and talking to some school district officials on what’s still doable for them and taking into consideration the State Fair issue and the tourism issue and those type of things,” Jorgensen says.

Governor Terry Branstad has been a critic of having schools start earlier and earlier in August, complaining it hurts the state’s tourism industry and makes it impossible for families to go to the Iowa State Fair. Two months ago Branstad’s Department of Education put schools on notice that no more automatic waivers would be granted, so schools would have to start in the week in which September 1st falls. Brian Johnson is a lobbyist for the Iowa State Fair, the Iowa Lodging Association and the trade group for Iowa’s restaurant industry. He says August 23rd seems better than August 11th, the date on which some schools started classes last year.


(as said) “It’s an issue that the State Fair has worked on for a long time,” Johnson says. “I know not all the tourism people are happy with that date, but it’s one that we believe we can support and hope we can get the issue behind us.”

Margaret Buckton is a lobbyist for the Rural School Association of Iowa and the Urban Education Network.


(as said) “For us, school boards being able to set when school starts is a core belief,” Buckton says. “And it’s one that, frankly, we wouldn’t compromise on because we think the priority of children trumps all other things.”

Schools say they need to start early in order to conclude the fall semester before the long holiday break, plus many high school students take community college courses and community colleges start earlier than the last week of August, too. The House Education Committee’s chairman says setting August 23rd as the start date accommodates those two concerns from schools. Republicans and Democrats on the committee met privately for about an hour Monday, February 9th to discuss Jorgensen’s compromise. A committee vote on the idea could come this Wednesday, Februay 11th.

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School Board To Discuss District Calendar

OrabsSheldon, Iowa — When the Sheldon Community Schools Board of Education holds their regular monthly meeting Wednesday, one of the items on their agenda will be the 2015-16 District Calendar.

Sheldon Superintendent Robin Spears says the calendar for next school year is still up in the air.  He says it’s clear that application for an early start date waiver would be extremely difficult to obtain due to the very high bar set by the Iowa Department of Education. As a result, the Board will look at some alternatives for start dates at Wednesday’s meeting.

Spears is also scheduled to update the Board on the progress of the East Elementary Building & Renovation project at Wednesday’s meeting.  In addition, the Board will take up four Open Enrollment Applications, handle a pair of resignations, and be asked to approve a coaching contract, along with numerous other routine items of business.

Wednesday’s School Board meeting begins at 6 pm in the high school library.