Opinion: Education Funding

Iowa’s education system is strong. We have the highest average ACT scores, highest high school graduation rate, and highest concurrent enrollment in the United Sates. Beginning with Fiscal Year 2017, Senate Republicans made a commitment to our K-12 schools through increasing state funding by more than $300 million. More importantly, we kept that promise by fully funding our commitment to K-12 education.

This year, we have proposed an additional $91.7 million in new funding showing our continued dedication to invest in Iowa students. Included in our current funding plan is $75.7 million increase in supplemental state aid, an additional $5.8 million state cost per pupil, $7.7 million increase for transportation equity, and $2.5 million for therapeutic classroom grants.

State aid is just one piece of the school funding pie, but is significant in terms of resources. Currently, 43% of the State General Fund budget spending is dedicated to k-12 education. We have been working hard to determine the supplemental state aid for next year so that school districts will know what funding they can expect as they work through their budgeting process.

Because of our responsible budgeting, we are able to keep our promise to Iowa students and teachers and fully fund this increase. The Senate Republican plan for K-12 is predictable, reliable, sustainable, and demonstrates education is a top priority.

State aid to schools is not the only way we are working to support our Iowa students and teachers. We have made it a priority to equalize funding for schools with higher than average transportation costs. We have also made it a priority to fund the therapeutic classroom grants along with the policy to address the problem of classroom clears and violent student behavior.

We continue to add state dollars to equalize the state per pupil inequity. These are extremely important measures because every school in Iowa faces different challenges. A school in rural Iowa has significantly different concerns than our schools here in Ankeny and Des Moines.

As we head in to week 5, I will continue to focus on reliable and sustainable budgets to be the backbone of strong policies for my district and our entire state.

Jack Whitver
Senate District 19
[email protected]