• warning: Parameter 2 to ed_classified_link_alter() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/soloneconomist/www/www/includes/common.inc on line 2968.
  • warning: Parameter 2 to ed_classified_link_alter() expected to be a reference, value given in /home/soloneconomist/www/www/includes/common.inc on line 2968.

After Governor Branstad’s veto, officials have tough decisions to make

ICCSD board reacts to statewide drop in education funding

IOWA CITY – The Iowa City Community School District will turn its attention to funding, and name Supplemental State Aid as its sole legislative priority for the 2016 session.
Board of Directors Vice President Brian Kirschling presented the district’s new legislative priority report at its July 28 meeting.
“It’s the one and only priority that affects everything we do: funding,” he said.
The priority report comes in the wake of a controversial action by Iowa Governor Terry Branstad. After initially approving only a 1.25 percent base budget increase for K-12 school districts, legislators drafted a bipartisan compromise to provide nearly $56 million in one-time additional state aid. Branstad vetoed the effort after the Iowa Legislature adjourned in June, to wide opposition. Legislators have not yet been able to garner enough support to call for a special session of the legislature to potentially override the veto.
“I think it’s safe to say that we are probably not the only district in the state that is in a bit of dismay regarding the governor’s recent actions,” Kirschling said at the meeting. “We want to make sure that our legislative priority allows us to link arms, so to speak, with other districts and make our collective voices heard.”
The legislative priority report included five priorities two years ago and three last year. This year, the board adopted funding as its sole priority due to the seriousness of the veto’s impact.
According to the report, the board will prioritize both the adequacy and the timeliness of Supplemental State Aid. The district supports a six percent increase in aid for the 2016-2017 and 2017-2018 academic years, compared to the 1.85 percent average increase from the past seven years.
District officials have already put some measures in place to accommodate the funding cuts, such as a recent flat-line in hiring.
However, with the district poised to accept 300 new students into its classroom next year, the funding cut will still hurt.
Several directors voiced concern for class sizes and teacher morale.
“It’s a sad situation,” said Director Marla Swesey.
Kirschling, along with other board members, stressed the importance of keeping the impact of the cuts as far away from the students as possible.
Director Tuyet Baruah said as much as ICCSD schools are affected by the veto, many Iowa districts are in even worse financial straits, which makes voter awareness and greater advocacy for public education even more important.
“Although the veto really hurts our district, we’re lucky,” she said. “With our economy, we’re able to absorb some of this stuff more easily than small, rural school districts can.”