Fairfield Ledger

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School funding, taxes topics of breakfast

By MICHAEL LEACH, Ledger lifestyles editor | Mar 20, 2011

Days after the Iowa Senate approved a measure setting the allowable growth rate for schools at 2 percent, Reps. Curt Hanson and Sandra Greiner addressed that and more at the Fairfield Area Chamber of Commerce’s Legislative Breakfast Saturday morning at Best Western Fairfield Inn.

Lisa Greenig, Fairfield Middle School teacher and member of the local contract negotiation team, recommended the legislators set allowable growth at 2 percent so the school district could continue to offer programs to its students.

“We’re cutting a Spanish program at the middle school, and what is the next largest language in southeast Iowa: Spanish,” said Greenig. “I hear on the radio we are lacking to other countries in technology. What do we do? We start laying off computer teachers, closing computer labs. We’re moving in the wrong direction to save money.”

“I can’t predict where it’s going to end,” said Greiner. “I’d like to be able to tell you they’re going to settle for 1.67 [percent] and that’s what you’re going to get. Everything up there that is really, really partisan is at such loggerheads, nobody can predict what’s going to happen. There are lines drawn in the sand that are miles apart.”

While the Senate, where Democrats are in the majority, have set their sights at 2 percent allowable growth for schools over the next two years, the Republican-controlled House and Gov. Terry Branstad both want zero allowable growth.

Sue Carr, teacher at Pence Elementary and another member of the local contract negotiation team, questioned changing the Iowa Core Curriculum because of the years and manpower it has taken to get the local curriculum in line with the core curriculum. The Iowa Core Curriculum currently faces an uncertain future as it was caught in the cross hairs of the Taxpayers First Act, which was the first bill of the session and signed into law March 7.

“I’m also concerned about that because curriculum and standards are not something you reach up on a shelf and pick up,” Hanson said. “They’re not something that you go to another state and adopt. You have to look at your state and look at your communities, and it takes a lot of time to develop these things.

“The governor has said that ‘maybe we should have just an educational conference this summer. Invite some of the best and the brightest people from all around the nation and charge them so much per plate to be there, and then they’ll have a solution. We’ll hold a special session in the Legislature, and that’s going to cost some money. Bring all the legislators together and they’ll have a consensus,’ which they probably won’t. For every tough problem, there’s usually a simple, easy answer that’s wrong,” Hanson added.

The representatives were then asked if there would be a possibility of adjusting the property tax system to reduce commercial property tax rates.

For the complete article, see the Monday, March 21, 2011, printed edition of The Fairfield Ledger.

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