By Rep. Matt Windschitl, House Majority Leader (R-District 17,

Missouri Valley)

Near the beginning of each session discussions begin on the level of funding for K-12 education as part of the Supplemental State Aid Package. We do this early in session so school districts across the state can know what the coming school year’s budget is going to be and they can then plan accordingly.

Since House Republicans have been in the majority, our record of supporting Iowa’s K-12 education system is strong. Since 2011, investment in Iowa schools has increased by $863 million, or roughly 35%. You read that correctly, Republicans have increased education funding by almost $1 billion over the last nine years.

To put these numbers in perspective, here is how investment in K-12 has increased compared to inflation since 2011. K-12 funding has increased by 35.3% while standard inflation, measured by the Midwest Consumer Price Index, has only increased by 13.47%. These numbers show that while there are many budgetary priorities for House Republicans, education funding is at the top of the list.

This year, House Republicans are once again working to set SSA early and at a rate that meets the needs of school districts across the state. It is too early in session to predict what the final increase in funding will be; however, we are committed to looking at not just the SSA number, but also transportation costs and the statewide per pupil funding inequities that many school districts face.

Making Iowa Schools Safe

This week, Governor Reynolds announced plans to create a School Safety Bureau headed by the Department of Public Safety and Department of Education. The Bureau will provide resources and work closely with Iowa’s school districts and law enforcement to keep students, faculty and staff safe.

House Republicans appreciate the Governor’s attention to this important issue and look forward to continue working with her to address the many needs schools have to improve safety.

This will not be the first step House Republicans have taken to address school safety needs. During previous sessions, we have worked hard to make school safety a priority. Here are just a few examples of legislation that House Republicans have passed the following to address safety needs in our schools:

• Resources for security updates – In 2019, the Legislature passed an extension of the SAVE penny that is used for school infrastructure and property tax relief. As part of that legislation, House Republicans fought to ensure that school boards and administrators are able to use these resources for school safety measures and prioritize upgrades like secure entrances, security cameras, and other safety enhancements.

• Emergency Plans – In 2018, the Legislature passed legislation requiring schools to develop emergency response plans in coordination with local law enforcement. While most schools already had a strategy in place, some schools lacked a high-quality plan. This legislation also required teachers to go through active shooter training once a year so that if a situation ever arose, schools and staff are as prepared as possible to respond to the threat.

• Flexibility – Over the last several sessions, House Republicans have championed efforts to provide school districts with unprecedented flexibility over the funding they receive from the state. As part of these efforts, House Republicans made it easier for schools to direct more resources towards hiring school security personnel. With greater flexibility, school boards now have the ability to address their own unique safety and security challenges in a way that best meets their district’s needs.

• Teacher misconduct – In 2019, House Republicans also passed legislation that protects students from known predators in schools who move undetected from district to district by requiring administrators to report employee misconduct in a timely way.

House Republicans recognize that there is still work to be done and will continue to look for opportunities this session to ensure the safety of Iowa’s students, faculty, and staff while at school.

Share Your Thoughts

If you have a concern or question on any issue, please do not hesitate to reach out to me and I will get back to you as quickly as possible. There are many issues of great importance being discussed this session, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas. If you would like to receive this newsletter by e-mail, I would be happy to add you to my newsletter list. Please feel free to e-mail me at matt.windschitl@legis.iowa.gov.

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