A bill that makes it clear Iowa-based organizations which receive dues from school boards, school board members, superintendents and principals must have open meetings and make their records available to the public has passed a key legislative committee.
The move is part of the legislature’s response to a pay scandal at the Iowa Association of School Boards. Senator Tom Courtney, a Democrat from Burlington, expects the bill to sail through both the Iowa House and Senate.
“It adds a lot more transparency,” Courtney says. “It will open it up and I don’t believe what happened before can happen now.” The bill also applies to groups like the School Administrators of Iowa and the Urban Education Network as well.
The Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee approved the bill this morning. Representative Chris Hagenow, a Republican from Windsor Heights, is co-chair of the Oversight Committee. “It’s been good to see this be a bipartisan bill and the sentiment among the members of the committee is pretty much the same, across the board, and we felt like this was the right way to go,” Hagenow says.
The measure includes a requirement that each of the associations submit a report of its finances to the legislature each year. A recently-hired executive director of the Iowa Association of School Boards was fired about a year ago after raising her salary significantly on her own, without board approval.
The Legislature’s Government Oversight Committee held a series of statehouse hearings to publicly examine the pay scandal at the Iowa Association of School Boards. Senator Courtney says he doesn’t want to give the impression that the bill is some sort of indictment against the current roster of folks who are part of the association.
“This was just a couple of unscrupulous people at the very top that were getting way more overcompensated than they should have been,” Courtney says. “And I think we’ve fixed that now. I really think we’ve fixed it.” Courtney is a co-chair of the Government Oversight Committee.
The Iowa Association of School Boards has had an interim executive director since last spring. The superintendent of the Southeast Polk School District was hired just last week to be the group’s new executive director.