JEFFERSON, Iowa — Three isn’t five. But at least it’s not two. That’s how first-year Greene County Community Schools Superintendent Brett Abbotts looks at the funding increase that Iowa senate Republicans approved Thursday afternoon. Abbotts said the 3 percent increase in the per student formula will mean about $250,000 for the coming year. In recent years, Republicans have typically given public schools between 2 and 2.5% in annual funding increases.

“It will help certainly,” Abbotts said from his office.

Abbotts said the district has had difficulty replacing a popular industrial technology teacher who quit because he couldn’t afford the increasing fuel costs for his 120 mile daily roundtrip commute to school. Increased funding could help with situations like that in the future.

“He was phenomenal. He was coming from 60 miles away,” Abbotts explained. He said the district wasn’t able to offer a large enough raise to help offset the higher commute cost. The salary that is within our salary schedule to be able to offer him just wasn’t there. He ended up finding a position closer to where he lives.”

Democrats proposed a 6 percent increase, but failed to convince Republicans to back their proposal instead. 

Abbotts said he was relieved that the funding increase was 3 percent rather than 2.5 percent. But ideally, it would have been higher. “We’ll be ok. Would I feel really good if that number was more like 5 percent? Yeah, I’d feel really good because that would be an additional 200,000 for us, which would be tremendous. It would give us an opportunity to really pass that on to teachers. It would get us closer to matching inflation. It wouldn’t get all the way there, but it would get us closer.”

Inflation over the past year in the country was 6.5 percent.

House Republicans also have proposed a 3 percent increase. Governor Kim Reynolds previously included a 2.5 percent increase in her budget proposal, but House Speaker Pat Grassley expressed confidence that she would side with the legislative funding proposal.