The governor is set to sign a bill this afternoon which will boost overall state spending on Iowa’s K-through-12 public schools by four percent for the school year that begins in the fall of 2010. But not all Iowa school districts will see that much of an increase in state aid.
The state funding increase for public schools is calculated on a per pupil basis. An estimate from the Legislative Services Agency suggests 78 Iowa school districts where enrollment is projected to decline will get less school aid. Jim Addy is administrator of the Iowa Department of Education’s school support and information division.
"State aid is calculated on a formula — the state foundation formula — and the primary driver for that is actually the number of students that are enrolled at that school," Addy says. In the early 1970s, the State of Iowa established that general outline linking state aid to the number of students in a district.
"Most states use some sort of student-based formula, but there are expectations," Addy says. For example, he says New Jersey officials just reworked their distribution formula to ensure troubled urban districts get a much larger proportion of money than suburban and rural districts. Predictions indicate that 286 Iowa schools expected to get an increase in state aid for the academic year that begins in the fall of 2010 will see steady or increased enrollment.
State officials have adjusted the distribution formula for state aid to ensure schools with declining enrollment don’t see a huge drop in state aid. No school will get less than 101 percent of what it received from the state for the previous school year. "It’s only a short-term fix," Addy says. "The declining enrollment still has an impact." The budget dilemma shrinking schools face will worsen on July 1st of 2013. That’s when the state is scheduled to end the practice of ensuring those districts get nearly the same amount of state aid as in the previous year.
Governor Chet Culver is scheduled to sign the bill which sets the general level of state funding for the 2010/2011 school year at 3:30 this afternoon.