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Legislative Report (Vol. XXVI No. 6) February 16, 2007

February 16, 2007

Growth Factor to Governor

The Iowa House this week passed 99-0, a four percent school growth factor for the 2008-09 school year. The bill had passed the Senate the previous week. An amendment to raise the growth to 6% was ruled not germane during the debate. Majority Democrats said that additional money would be provided to teacher quality and early childhood initiatives later in the session, raising the state’s commitment by more than 6 percent

The 4% growth would increase the cost per pupil by $213 to $5,546 for FY ’09.

Teacher Quality

Much discussion is taking place at this time concerning the issue of Teacher Quality. Governor Culver has proposed an increase of $70 million for this purpose and the adoption of this amount is likely. At this point much of the attention and discussion is on the language of the bill and any changes to the current law.

We, as AEAs, have determined that including our nonadministrative, professional staff in this program is of high priority for us this session. We have done so for the following reasons:

  • We believe that our staff and the services we provide through them are very important to the quality of education and educators in this state.
  • We are concerned with the recruitment and retention of staff due to the growing gap between some LEA and AEA staff salaries. Continuation of the current program without AEA staff participation will only grow that gap.
  • We view this as a separate issue from our additional need to restore past funding reductions. TQ participation by our staff is an attempt to even out the playing field in salaries for our staff and to recognize the importance of their work. Restoration of the past funds enables us to retain current staff and to try to add additional staff for those services being requested by LEAs.
  • Some AEA staff members, based on the current definition, are eligible for this program. This causes morale problems within the staff.
  • The Iowa State Education Association has calculated that to include AEA staff would only “result in a small impact to the salary increases for the existing 37,000 teachers.”

AEA administration, staff and boards are encouraged to talk with legislators about this issue.

During meetings held on this issue the ISEA has continually advocated for the inclusion of AEA staff in the new TQ bill. Representatives of IASB and the Department of Education have questioned the inclusion. IASB has concerns about including AEA staff in terms of its impact on the goal of trying to get Iowa’s teachers to the national average. The DE has raised concerns that including AEA staff is not consistent with the original intent of the legislation and that it will open it up to other groups wanting to be included. Both IASB and DE have voiced their support for full restoration of AEA funds as a more appropriate way of handling the issue. AEAs are very appreciative of that support, but as stated above, we view this as a separate issue.

Senate Files

SF 147 - This bill adds nutrition to the list of specific services covered by federally funded health care programs that receive reimbursement as special education services. The bill adds nutrition services to the services that area education agencies provide to school districts and the general student population. The bill also requires that licensed dietitians, as defined in Code chapter 152A, be employed in each area education agency. By Bolckam

SF 192 - This bill raises the compulsory school attendance age from 16 to 17 years of age. The bill includes a technical amendment to exempt children who meet conditions existing in Code section 299.2. By Bolkcom

SF 197 - This bill establishes a grant program in the department of education to promote math and science education improvements. The bill states that the grants will be allocated to area education agencies, community colleges, and school districts to provide regional and cooperative programs for these purposes: teacher training and professional development; supplemental math, science, engineering, and other technology-oriented educational opportunities for students, including low-income, female, and minority students; internships and workplace learning opportunities; and expansion and alignment of curriculum. By Hogg

House Files

HF 327 - This bill affects the drawing of school board director district boundaries when any school district is enlarged, reorganized, or changes its boundaries. The bill eliminates one of the optional methods for electing directors, that of election at large from the entire district by the electors of the entire district. The bill also requires that the directors of the new school district, when drawing the new boundaries, provide that the number of local communities divided among more than one director district be as small as possible and, when there is a choice, that the more populous communities be divided before the less populous. The bill defines local communities to mean townships, school districts, and school district attendance centers. By Tymeson

HF 362 - This bill appropriates $1million from the general fund of the state for FY 2007=2008 to the department of education for high-risk teacher compensation grants to school districts. The department is charged with determining the grant criteria. Grants shall be awarded on a competitive basis to improve the salaries of teachers who are employed by school districts in high crime areas that have a high incidence of police calls to the attendance center and high numbers of student suspensions. Individual grant awards are limited to $5,000. By Ford

HF 364 - This bill requires that each school district operating or providing for a school breakfast or lunch program provide for the forwarding of information from the applications for the school breakfast or lunch program, for which federal funding is provided, to identify children for enrollment in the medical assistance program pursuant to Code chapter 249A or the healthy and well kids in Iowa program pursuant to Code chapter 514I to the department of human services. By Ford

HF 396 - This bill expands the scope of services under an existing appropriation for FY 2006-2007 made in 2006 Iowa Acts, chapter 1157, for the community empowerment initiative involving preschool services. The bill expands the services to be provided through the appropriation beyond preschool services to also include other supportive services. The bill also expands the four-year-old and five-year-old age range addressed in the appropriation to also include three-year-old children. By Cmte on Human Resources

HF 415 - This bill appropriates $250,000 from the general fund of the state to the department of education for the 2007-2008 fiscal year for the purposes of the school attendance task force pilot project program, which is also established under the bill. By Mascher

House Joint Resolution

HJR 4 - This joint resolution proposes to amend the Constitution of the State of Iowa to provide home rule powers and authority for school districts. The home rule powers cannot be inconsistent with state law and the power to tax is limited to those taxes expressly authorized by the general assembly. The general assembly reserves the authority to create, reorganize, and dissolve school districts. If the power of authority of a school district conflicts with the power and authority of a municipal corporation or a county or a joint county-municipal corporation, the power and authority exercised by a municipal corporation, county, or joint county-municipal corporation shall prevail within its jurisdiction.

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