Improving student achievement requires a timely investmentThe Taylor Report by Sen. Rich Taylor
Week five in session
Sen. Rich Taylor represents Henry and Lee counties and portions of Washington and Jefferson counties.
One of the top priorities of the Iowa Senate this session is providing the necessary funding for our schools for the upcoming 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years.
This decision has already been delayed too long and it is a real problem for local school boards.
This problem started last year when the House and Gov. Terry Branstad refused to follow state law. For the last 20 years, Iowa has required basic aid to local students to be set 18 months before the start of a school year.
In the Senate, we’re working to get us back on track, and supporting local students and teachers. We’ve approved a 4 percent increase in basic funding — also known as “allowable growth” — for the next two school years.
In both cases, we’ll do it without raising property taxes. Schools rely on these dollars to buy up-to-date textbooks, keep the lights on, gas up the buses and pay school employees.
The Senate is following the Iowa school funding law signed in 1995 by then Gov. Branstad, which is designed to provide local schools with sustainable, stable funding.
Failure to act is creating a crisis in Iowa schools. In a recent survey of Iowa school superintendents, 87 percent said that failing to determine aid to local schools before March 1 will result in teacher layoffs, crowded classes and harm to student achievement.
The House this week finally addressed school funding by cutting in half the Senate’s 4 percent increase in basic state aid for both the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years.
The House’s half-hearted action sends the wrong message to local school districts, parents, students and educators. After several lean years, our local schools tell us they need a strong investment to ensure our students get a world-class education.
Another item on our agenda for this session is continuing efforts to increase student achievement, boost teacher quality and develop innovative education reforms. There is clear bipartisan support for this effort, but the immediate need is for the governor and House to quickly comply with state law to ensure our schools can avoid layoffs and other harmful cuts.