All the Republicans in the legislature agree on giving a one percent boost in general state support to Iowa’s public schools. However, action on that is held up as Republicans in the House and Senate debate how to address another issue — excessive transportation costs in geographically large school districts.
House Republicans like Representative Cecil Dolecheck of Mount Ayr promise to revisit that school transportation issue next week.
“The average is around $370 per student,” Dolecheck said. “We have some school districts that have transportation costs as high as $1,000 per student. What the House proposal does, rather than give a blanket amount to school districts for every student, our proposal starts to address those with the highest transportation costs and buy them down.”
House Republicans have been offering about $10 million to cover busing costs for one year. Senate Republicans have been pushing for a permanent fix, one that would go equally to all schools. Most Democrats in the House voted today to support that plan. Representative Sharon Steckman is a Democrat from Mason City.
“When someone tells me they’re going to do something over and over, pretty soon I just quit believing them,” said Representative Sharon Steckman, a Democrat from Mason City. “For eight years we’ve been working on the transportation inequity and the per pupil funding inequity — eight years — and now that we actually have something, we’re hearing, ‘Oh, reject this. We’ve got something better.'”
This busing issue and a final vote on how much state money to give public schools next year are still on the legislature’s “to do” list for next week.