The governor’s plan to provide state scholarships to parents who start sending their kids to a private school is being changed to try to find more votes.
Rural lawmakers worry the concept will put more financial strain on small school districts and the plan has stalled in the House for a second year. Last month, Governor Kim Reynolds suggested a new fund for public school districts with fewer than 500 students. This weekend during an appearance on “Iowa Press” on Iowa PBS, Reynolds shared a counter offer that would send more money to more rural schools.
“One of the other things we’re looking at as we talk about the bill is maybe look at occupational sharing and that would cover an even broader group of rural districts,” Reynolds said, “so we’re still working on the pieces of the legislation.”
The state already provides increased state funding to Iowa school districts that share superintendents, social workers, custodians or business managers. House Democratic Leader Jennifer Konfrst expects a fierce pressure campaign to get a bill passed this year.
“This is an election year, so I think all bets are off when it comes to what’s going to happen,” Konfrst said. “I remain hopeful that there are enough Republicans in the House who recognize this for what it is, which is a sham to move public money to private schools.”
The initial copy of the governor’s Students First Scholarship program advanced out of the Senate Education Committee last week, but the panel’s Republican chairwoman says changes are going to be made in the plan. House Speaker Pat Grassley has used his authority to move the bill to another House committee, so it remains eligible for debate.