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Critics Claim School Funding Measure Penalizes Districts That Chose Distance Learning Over In-Person Instruction

Politics

DES MOINES, Iowa — State lawmakers are at odds with one another over school funding, but this time, a specific provision in the education funding bill has prompted claims it is retaliation for defying the governor.

A proposal that was discussed in the Senate Education Subcommittee Monday, would give more money to districts that were in compliance with the return to learn requirements at the beginning of the year. It gives these districts $175 more per pupil.

Critics say this singles out the Des Moines Public School District for its decision not to hold in-person classes due to COVID-19 safety concerns.

“My four children deserve the same amount of funding at their school as all other schools, as minimal as that funding may be,” DMPS parent Shelley Skuster told the committee members.

Democrat Sen. Herman Quirmbach said, “You’re making the children of Des Moines the whipping boys for the dispute between the governor and the district.”

Education Chair, Republican senator Amy Sinclair says that schools that kept their doors open endured more costs.

“This bill is not about revenge. It is legitimately about meeting the needs of school districts who have had children in their classrooms, who have had to clean, who have had to provide for additional subs when teachers had to quarantine. They’ve had to change their transportation schedule so as to allow for social distancing on buses. And let’s just be honest if you don’t have kids in classrooms you don’t have those expenses,” said Sinclair.

The bill does not have support from other lobbyists or organizations, just the Republican lawmakers.

But that increase in funding per student overall will not be enough for districts to overcome budget shortfalls due to the pandemic and they will likely have to raise property taxes to make up for losses.

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