Democratic Governor Chet Culver is again urging legislators to provide an additional $347 million to Iowa’s K-through-12 public schools.  In January, Culver called on legislators to approve a two percent increase in general aid to those public schools, along with an additional $100 million to help fill some budget holes.

“I have no reason to believe that leadership will not comply with that budget request,” Culver says. “But I just think it is critically important that I make it crystal clear that these public schools across our state are relying on this additional funding.”

Senate Democratic Leader Mike Gronstal of Council Bluffs said Friday legislators will probably provide slightly more than the governor has recommended. “We will be at least at the governor’s level.  A lot of school districts are talking about what if we’re not at the governor’s level when it comes to funding for K-through-12 education and that’s really pretty unrealistic,” Gronstal said Friday on “Iowa Press” on IPTV.  “We are, of course, at a minimum going to be at the governor’s level and we are working with the governor to try and identify resources to get beyond his level.” 

School officials throughout the state have been publicizing a variety of proposed layoff plans for teachers and staff.  Legislators haven’t made a final decision on the matter. But — according to Gronstal — lawmakers will likely embrace Culver’s general education spending proposal, along with Culver’s call for an additional $100 million allotment to help schools deal with the budget crunch.

“I think we’ll reach just a little bit further than that,” Gronstal said on IPTV.  “I think that’s better than what school districts are expecting right now.” 

Culver spoke this morning at an education-related event at the statehouse and he used the occasion to pass out a document which lists how much more state support every Iowa school district would get under his spending plan.

“I think it’s important that we let the public know, let our constituents know and, in particular, these school districts that we hear their concern loudly and clearly and that we are trying to be responsive to their needs at the local level,” Culver said.  “And these additional funds are going to go a long way to help keep teachers employed.” 

Culver publicly accepted a  $50,000 donation today for the Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates program.  Cargill’s check will help more students enroll in the program which currently serves students from 27 Iowa high schools.