Senate Republicans are proposing a 2.25% increase in general state support of public schools.
It’s slightly less than the 2.5% increase Republican Governor Kim Reynolds has proposed. Public school advocates say neither figure provides enough to deal with the impact of inflation on expenses and to keep wages competitive for teachers and other school staff. Republican Senator Chris Cournoyer of Le Claire said the Senate GOP number is responsible.
“You know, it might not be the number that people are asking for,” she said during a Senate subcommittee meeting, “but it’s a number that you’re getting in the first 30 days that you can count on.”
Lawmakers are required to make this school funding decision 30 days after the legislature convenes. Democrats in the legislature have called for a 5% increase in general state support of public school operations. During a news conference Wednesday, Governor Reynolds said her recommendation, which is half that much, is “reasonable” and she said Iowa schools received a huge amount of federal pandemic relief money that’s not yet been spent.
“As of the end of December, districts were still sitting on — they hadn’t used $793 million,” Reynolds said. “…so I don’t think it’s a lack of funding that we’re providing for our K-12 education.”
That federal money — approved by congress during the Trump and Biden Administrations — is to be used to ensure schools are operating safely and to address the impact the pandemic has had on students.