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Legislative Report (Vol XXIV No 14) April 18, 2005 Adjournment Still Unsure

April 22, 2005

Nothing that occurred this past week gives any indication that the legislature is moving toward adjournment. While agreement was reached on several bills that need to be passed this year there was no discernible movement on budget issues. While the last day of the session falls one week from today most observers are predicting the first or second week of May as more likely.

We are still keeping an eye on various issues that shall or may be debated between now and whenever adjournment occurs. They are:

HF 873 – School Sharing Discussions

This bill puts into bill form the recommendations of the Educational Governance Sub-committee that has been reported on previously. The bill does the following:

Intent

  • Create a system for school officials to discuss sharing or increased efficiency opportunities with other entities. The intent of any sharing or efficiency effort is to support rigorous and relevant student programming and efforts to increase student achievement through the reduced costs of operations, creating additional resource availability.

Outcomes

  • Each AEA shall develop a Regional Plan, in a consistent format, that identifies existing, new, or expanded opportunities for school district sharing or efficiency of operations.
  • Long-term – measures that identify dollars or time saved as a result of the sharing or efficiency effort.
  • Lists of cooperative partners in specific sharing or efficiency opportunities.
  • Evidence of program consolidation and high school or district reorganization.
  • Educational stakeholders are aware of sharing and efficiency efforts in each region.

Structure

  • AEAs will facilitates a series of meetings, in a consistent format, with school leaders on possible efficiencies or sharing opportunities
  • The DE and AEAs, in consultation with the major associations, will collaboratively develop a uniform structured conversation process including specific categories of discussion with school leaders on possible sharing and efficiency efforts.

The bill also encourages the standing committees on education and ways and means to study some of the other governance recommendations such as: 1) eliminating or modifying Dillon's Rule, 2) requiring minimum hours rather than minimum days of classroom instruction, 3) combining funding sources of Phases I and II of the Educational Excellence Program, 4) consolidating levies into two primary levies (one board and one voter approved), 5) development of a statewide penny for school infrastructure, and 6) inclusion of school districts in tax increment financing approval.

Lastly, the bill recommends that a study be conducted to review existing sharing of athletic programs and the impact on reorganization. It requires a report of findings to Education Committee members by Dec. 1, 2005.

HF 729 - IPERS Contributions

The purpose for initiating an IPERS bill this year was aimed at insuring the solvency of the fund. HF 729 makes changes to the contributions made to the system by employers and employees. Currently, the employer rate is 5.75 percent and the employee rate is 3.7 percent of a member's covered wages. The bill provides that for the fiscal period beginning July 1, 2006, and ending June 30, 2014, the base employer rate may increase from the current rate by .3 percentage points per fiscal year and the base employee rate may increase from the current rate by .2 percentage points per fiscal year thus maintaining the current 60%-40% split.

On Wednesday the bill was taken up for debate. A republican sponsored amendment to move to a 50-50 split on contributions was defeated 26-24 when Sen. Mary Lundby – R voted with democrats. Following defeat of the amendment republicans requested to defer on the bill. Whether it will come up again this session is unknown at this time. This bill has already passed the House.

HF 848 - School Formula Change

The bill increases the foundation level annually, beginning in FY 2006, until it reaches 100 percent in 2012, but does not alter the uniform levy of $5.40. This bill would impact school funding in the future by putting the entire burden on the state to fund. The fiscal note estimates the cost to the state upon full elimination of the additional levy as $473 million annually. Is on the House debate Calender.

HF 761 - Early Childhood Reporting

This bill requires community empowerment areas to take steps to report directly to the public and directs the Community Empowerment office to physically colocate with other state programs that it assists and works with. Has passed the House

HF 816 – Ed. Appropriations

This bill as passed by the House has several issues related to AEAs in the bill:

  • In the early childhood section it provides that it is the intent of the legislature that regional technical assistance teams will be established and will include staff from AEAs, Community Colleges and Iowa State University.
  • This same section also provides that of the funding provided $1 million will be used to collaborate with AEAs and CC's to provide child care and preschool providers with access to "high-quality" professional development. (The bill provides $9 million in total to the Community Empowerment fund to be used for early childhood
  • Provides that the moneys allocated for reading recovery be allocated to the Iowa reading recovery council and that the council "use the area education agency unified budget as its fiscal agent for grant moneys and for other moneys administered by the council."
  • Provides for the establishment of an "Institute for Tomorrow's Workforce" on which the AEAs have a member.

The bill also has funding for the two days mandated by Iowa law requiring that school districts provide an additional two non-contact contract days beginning next fall. While it is estimated that an additional $20 million will be required to pay for those days this bill funds only one additional non-contact contract day at $8.9 million. The other mandated contract day was not funded.

Standings Appropriation Bill

While there is not yet a Standings Bill this is the bill we assume will continue the AEA budget cut at the $11.8 million level unless we are able to get that amount reduced.

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