Six of Iowa's largest education groups stood together in an unprecedented demonstration of unity against Governor Branstad and the House Republicans' proposal to zero-out allowable growth to the state's public schools.
The Area Education Agencies, Iowa State Education Association, Iowa School Board Association, Iowa Parent Teacher Association, School Administrators of Iowa, and the Urban Education Network of Iowa held a joint press conference calling for 2 percent allowable growth.
"We've already seen into the future with pink-slip predictions coming in from our larger school districts. The Governor keeps talking about setting a budget that is 'predictable and stable,' but I'd like to know how zeroing-out our schools for the first time in the history of the school funding formula is stable!" said Chris Bern, president of the Iowa State Education Association. "With a $900 million surplus, I am confounded as to why the Governor thinks it's more important to starve our schools than to grow them."
Currently, Cedar Rapids School District is reporting 61 positions being eliminated, Council Bluffs is eliminating 50, Iowa City is eliminating 60, and the deadline for pink-slip notification is still a little less than a month away.
"Zero percent allowable growth will mean more layoffs, larger class sizes, and fewer opportunities for students," said David Benson, Cedar Rapids Superintendent of Schools, who spoke on behalf of the Urban Education Network of Iowa. Benson added: "Every state taxpayer should know that zero percent allowable growth also triggers a statewide $70 million property tax increase based on a complicated school foundation formula that includes a budget guarantee for the 277 Iowa school districts with declining enrollments."
Effective education benefits not only our youth, but offers advances to Iowa. Every day Iowa's school administrators, teachers, and staff work to instill these advantages in their students – who are our state's future. This effort cannot be successful without the support of our government. This is not a partisan issue. It is a quality of life issue that can and should be upheld across party lines. Iowa PTA supports full funding for our schools and advocates for 2 percent allowable growth," said Claire Leonard, President, Iowa PTA.
"The Iowa Association of School Boards joins with School Administrators of Iowa, the Iowa State Education Association, Area Education Agencies, the Urban Education Network, and the Iowa Parent Teacher Association in recognizing that our schools need an adequate and balanced budget to meet the needs of all students. We urge legislators to fund education at a level that assures Iowa's students continue to achieve and grow in these critically competitive times," said Ronnie Stalker, interim executive director of the Iowa School Boards Association.