Governor Chet Culver says he will sign into law the two percent increase in general state aid to schools which legislators endorsed this week. State law requires legislators and the governor to set the main, per student payments to K-through-12 schools more than a year in advance, to give administrators time to plan and this increase would take effect in the academic year which begins in the fall of 2010.
Culver says two percent is as much as the state can afford in this economic downturn. "We were very clear with teachers and other groups that are involved in school districts, for example, (about) this tough decision," Culver says. "But I think if you talk to them, they appreciate the fact that we literally did as much as we could."
Culver says Iowa’s public schools wouldn’t have gotten two percent without money in the federal economic stimulus that’s aimed at education. "Because we’re going to go to two percent, it’s less likely that we will have as many layoffs," Culver says, "and so anything that we can do to use this stimulus in the areas of health care or infrastructure or education or energy, you know, to prevent pink slips, that’s what we’re going to try to do."
A two percent increase in per-student aid to K-through-12 schools for the 2010/2011 school year amounts to about $60 million more in state support. The Iowa House late this afternoon gave final approval to that increase; the Iowa Senate approved the move on Tuesday.
The governor and legislators have not yet addressed state funding for the school year which begins this fall, however. The governor has said the state can afford only two percent rather than the four percent increase in state aid that was promised last year, but legislators have not yet ratified that.