DES MOINES, Iowa — Iowa’s public K-12 schools are looking to get a big boost in state funding for the upcoming school year.
Republican leaders agreed on a tentative deal Monday that would increase general funding by 2.1 percent, for a total of $78.6 million in new money.
The proposed increase more than doubles the 1.1 and 1 percent increases school districts were given the past two years.
“I appreciate the number being over two percent [for] State Supplemental Aid (SSA). The more that we can receive through our general fund to help provide those opportunities for our students is really important,” West Des Moines Community Schools Superintendent Lisa Remy said.
Remy says she is also pleased the funding level will likely be finalized within the first 30 days of the legislative session.
“That really helps school districts be able to plan and to really set their budgets for the future,” Remy said.
Pella superintendent Greg Ebeling says the increase will benefit schools like his with stable enrollment, but he says school with falling enrollment will still struggle.
“When enrollments decline they don’t decline at one grade level or one area, so whenever you are seeing declining enrollment it is typically across a whole system,” Ebeling said. “That doesn’t equate to just automatically one less teacher or two less teachers.”
The new funding includes a $5 per pupil boost in the school funding formula, not enough to offset the loss of students.
“I’ve been there before, I’ve been a superintendent of smaller rural schools and that’s really hard because it does not equally apply across all grade levels,” Ebeling said.
This $78.6 million increase is lower than the $89.5 million Gov. Kim Reynolds proposed a month ago in her condition of the state address, but she says it is pretty close.
“We’re going to keep moving forward. It’s a significant investment in education. We rank very high in compared to other states with the per pupil funding and especially when you consider all the other areas that we are funding,” Reynolds said.
Ebeling says he actually believes this two percent increase is sustainable over time if they can keep it consistent without jumping back down to one percent from year to year.