The Iowa Legislature has made some significant investments into our state’s education system over the past eight years. As we begin to look at school funding numbers for next school year, it’s worth recapping some of the good that has occurred recently.


Funding


· Funding is up 31 percent ($2.45 billion to $3.21 billion, a $763 million increase)


· Post-2008 recession, this is the ninth best in the nation for increased funding (Center on Budget Policy Priorities study). 29 states were still providing less total school funding per student than they were in pre-recession 2008. Iowa was ranked ninth with a 4.9 percent inflation-adjusted, since 2008.


· This funding increase includes over $60 million in property tax relief


· It also includes $150 million plus (annually) for the Teacher Leadership Compensation (TLC) program, a program, widely liked by districts, that helps spread good teaching practices around the building through collaboration, breaking down the “siloed” classroom and is seeing results


· Funding is outpacing inflation. A KCRG story earlier this year found that the amount the state spends on a per student basis from FY11 to FY17 should have been $6,539, based on inflation. It was actually $6,591, $52 higher than inflation.


· Figuring in local taxes and federal funds, districts on average get $11,213 (FY18) up from $9,554 (FY13), a $1,659 increase


· Eased bureaucratic burden by providing flexibility for existing dollars, allowing districts more local control of some funds to better meet district needs


Teachers and Salaries


· More teachers in the classroom. In 2012/13, there were 34,226 teachers – in 2016/17 there were 36,279 = 2,053 increase


· The teacher-to-student ratio has decreased from 13.91 to 13.37


· Salaries have increased from $52,635 to $58,287 = $5,652 increase


· National rank improved from 26th to 22nd on salaries from 2012/13 to 2015/16


· KCRG story found salaries outpacing inflation — Cedar Rapids specific, but indicative of everywhere. In FY11 the teacher average salary was $55,000. With inflation, that would translate to $62,000 today. But the actual average salary is $69,000.


· A report from NPR, in collaboration with a nonprofit called EdBuild, took a look at teacher pay across the country and how it compares when adjusted for cost-of-living in each state. What it found is that Iowa ranks eighth in the country at $60,868 adjusted.


Securing our Schools


· Legislation passed last year requires every school in the state to have a high-quality security plan in place, coordinating with local law enforcement and emergency management agencies to draft the plan and conduct drills.


· Legislation also allowed districts additional flexibility of funds to hire school security staff through existing funds that couldn’t previously be used for this purpose, keeping general fund dollars in the classroom (At-Risk/Dropout Prevention)


School Based Mental Health – HF 633 and HF 2441


· House Files 633 and 2441 provide school districts with the flexibility and authority to fund mental health professionals, including mental health counselors and psychologists, through existing funding streams. This gives schools additional pathways to hire such individuals and ensures that students are able to get the support they need and that schools are able to afford those supports.


· Suicide Prevention – SF 2113 – continuing education training for K-12 educators and coaches annually on suicide awareness and prevention, as well as adverse childhood experiences. This bill will help Iowa’s schools recognize the signs of a mental health crisis and refer those children to the appropriate services before they hurt themselves or others.


Dave Deyoe of Nevada is the Iowa State Representative from the 49th District. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Dave Deyoe, home phone: 515-382-2352; or by email: Dave.Deyoe@legis.iowa.gov.