Schoenjahn ColumnBy: News Release
Feb 10th, 2014
SENATE VOTES TO BOOST INVESTMENT IN LOCAL SCHOOLS
Iowa educators tell us that predictable, sustained state investment in education is the most effective way to increase student achievement.
That's why I voted for a 6 percent increase in local school funding for the 2015-16 school year (SF 2079 and SF 2077). This money would pay for the basics: up-to-date textbooks, heating bills, teacher salaries and gas for the buses. We also approved additional state dollars to prevent any related property tax increase (SF 2078).
Developing the state budget is the one thing I am required to do in my job as a state senator, and the largest part of that budget goes to education. State law requires us to set school funding 18 months ahead of the academic year so that school boards, administrators and educators can plan for local needs and make the best use of state resources.
A 6 percent increase would be welcome news for our local schools. It would help them bounce back from several lean years while also implementing the education reforms we approved in 2013. Since 2011, school funding in Iowa has suffered. As a result, our state has fallen to 37th in the nation when it comes to per pupil spending. Iowa is more than $1,500 below the national average in terms of how much we invest in each student.
However, we have the money to reverse this trend. Our reserve accounts are full at more than $650 million, and we have a surplus of $842 million. The major U.S. financial rating agencies all give Iowa the highest rating of AAA. Only seven other states match us with an across-the-board AAA rating.
Now is the time to invest wisely in student achievement. If the House and Governor also approve the legislation we passed in the Senate, all school districts in that my constituents attend—in Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan and Fayette counties—would get a healthy boost in funding for the 2015-16 school year.