The 2001 Iowa Legislature will tackle the teacher pay issue, but teachers won’t get a dramatic pay raise next year. It’ll be an incremental increase at best as legislative leaders and the Governor feel the constraints of a tight state budget. Senator Nancy Boettger of Harlan is the republican who will lead the Senate Education Committee. She says she really doesn’t know how much they will spend. She says what the need to determine is the definition of “quality teaching” and what they’re aiming to achieve.Democrat Governor Tom Vilsack had a panel come up with recommendations and Republican activist Marvin Pomerantz directed a separate set of recs. She says they’ll build from common ground.Boettger says a number of legislators have participated in seminars at which they discussed how to make changes.Boettger says it’ll be tough to introduce a new, market-based pay scale in public schools, which have rewarded longevity for so long. For instance, paying starting math and science teachers more than English teachers because there are fewer math and science teachers, so their service is more valuable.
Archives for December 2000
The Iowa State Cyclones play their first bowl game in 22-years, tonight, as they take on Pittsburgh in the Insight-dot-com bowl in Phoenix. Iowa State is 8-3 while Pittsburgh is 7-4 and Cyclone Coach Dan McCarney says the Panther’s record is deceiving. He says the losses include a three-pointer to Virginia Tech which finished with only one loss.McCarney says the Cyclone defense will have its hands full.McCarney says receiver Antonio Bryant has given Pitt a lift on special teams.Cyclone defensive back Dustin Avey says the secondary will be challenged by the Panthers receivers and runners.Avey says Antonio Bryant may be the best receiver the Cyclones have faced all season long.Quarterback Sage Rosenfels says the offense will need to combat Pitt’s speed on defense.Rosenfels says the Cyclone offense was at its best when the running game clicked and that will need to happen, tonight.Rosenfels says the offense will need to be efficient and get the ball to J.J. Moses for some big plays.
A Davenport semi-driver is wanted for fleeing the scene of an accident that injured seven people on Interstate-80 yesterday. Davenport police say a mini-van carrying seven people was rear-ended by a semi yesterday and pushed into a ditch. Cops say 40-year-old Allen Ray Reed left his semi at the accident scene and jumped into a mini-van that was headed west on I-80. Reed is also wanted in Texas on drug charges. All seven of the injured are in the hospital.
The U-S Census Bureau released figures today that show good news for Iowa’srepresentation in the U-S House. The Census Bureau says Iowa’s populationgrew by five-point-four percent since 1990 to just over two-point-ninemillion people. The population increase was the highest in the state sincethe 1920 census when the population went up by just over eight percent. BethHenning analyzes the census figures for the State Library of Iowa. Henningsays the increase is important to Iowa’s political representation. Theincrease will allow Iowa to keep its five seats in the U-S House. Iowa hadlost a seat following the 1990 census. She says the Census Bureau did notrelease any detailed information on the state’s population makeup. Henningsays Iowa’s increase ranked 43rd among the 50 states. Henning says Iowa’scount is likely a lot more accurate than other states. Iowa had the highestpercentage of forms mailed back to the Census Bureau. She says that make theinformation more accurate. The two-million-926-thousand-324 people recordedin Iowa gives the state its largest population since it became a state in1840.
Kids with “cabin fever” have been able to burn off a little excess energythis week at the State Historical Building. Spokesman Roger Munns saysthey’ve had couple of hundred kids come in each of day since Tuesday to takeadvantage of special activities at the Historical Building. Munns says it’sbeen a welcome relief to parents with kids who’re still home on holidaybreak, but unable to play out in the cold weather. He says the kids even geta chance to learn some things at the “100 Creations of the 20th Century”exhibit. Friday is the last day for the free “cabin fever” activities whichrun from 10 am until 2 pm.
Governor Tom Vilsack will push for more state grants for cultural andrecreation projects around the state. Last spring, the Iowa Legislaturecreated the “Vision Iowa” program to hand out millions to help financeconstruction of projects like sports arenas, museums and convention centers.Vilsack says the 180-million available NOW isn’t enough. “Vision Iowa”grants are financed by gambling revenues. The state-licensed boats inOsceola and along the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, plus the three racetracks, pay taxes to the state. Gambling taxes are placed in a special”infrastructure” account to pay for one-time projects. Last spring,legislators dedicated 300-MILLION to the “Vision Iowa” program, but at least100-million will be spent paying the interest on bonds. The “Vision Iowa”board will meet in January to begin reviewing the applications from citiesthat hope to land grants for planned attractions.
The mother of the Spirit Lake toddler who was beaten to death last Januarywill spend a great deal of time in prison. Heidi Watkins has been sentencedto 50 years in prison on child endangerment charges. Watkins’ two-year-olddaughter, Shelby Duis (doo-is), died January 4th at the Spirit Lake homeWatkins shared with her boyfriend, Jesse Wendelsdorf. Wendelsdorf wasacquitted of murder in July. Watkins was acquitted of murder but was foundguilty of multiple counts of child endangerment in August. Today, the judgesaid Watkins committed the ultimate betrayal of her child. Watkins willappeal the decision according to Watkins’ attorney, Larry Stoller(stoh’-ler). Dickinson County Attorney Ned Bjornsted (burn-sted) saystoday’s sentencing should bring closure to the case.
State officials will rest a little easier as the New Year rings in comparedto all the action one year ago. State Emergency Management Division DirectorEllen Gordon took some time this week to reflect on the events of last year.At this time last year, everyone was preparing for a possible Y-2-Kdisaster. Predictions of Y-2-K nightmares proved to be unfounded as stateofficials were left with very little to do at their Camp Dodge command post.Some people believe 2001 is the actual start of Y-2-K, but Gordon says shehasn’t heard of any concerns. Gordon says all the Y-2-K work and planninghasn’t gone to waste. She says the year 2000 ended up pretty much as itstarted — quiet, with no major disasters. The quiet start of the New Yearleft many people with stores of extra food, gasoline and electric generatorsthat ended up collecting dust.
Iowa’s Secretary of State says it’s time to consolidate elections. Iowa has party primaries in June, school board elections in September and a variety of local elections throughout the year. Secretary of State Chet Culver says some counties are forced to spend big bucks to hold election after election.Nearly 80 percent of Iowa’s precincts use “optical scanners” or computerized machines for voting, and Culver says the rest should be “encouraged” to switch to that method.Culver will hold five public hearings around the state in January to discuss election-related issues. Culver made his comments on Iowa Public Television.
Nebraska’s Governor wants smokers to cough up sales tax money to boost a riverfront development in Omaha, as well as improvements in Lincoln. Nebraska Governor Mike Johans would use the state sales tax on tobacco products to encourage developers to build along the Missouri River in Omaha.About two-and-a-half million dollars is generated each year by Nebraska tobacco taxes. Johans would direct one-and-a-half million of it to Omaha riverfront development. The other one million would go to a downtown development project in Lincoln, Nebraska’s capital. The Governor’s proposal must be approved by Nebraska’s legislature.