The Iowa Association of School Boards thanks Governor Branstad for his focus on improving K-12 public education during his State of the State address last Tuesday morning, Jan. 14.
"While we appreciate his commitment to improving education, we are very concerned that he did not mention FY 2016 funding for supplemental state aid," IASB Executive Director Tom Downs said. (During the 2013 legislative session, the legislature changed the term "allowable growth" to "supplemental state aid.")
Based upon the Governor’s comments last week, IASB is concerned an FY 2016 recommendation will not be forthcoming. IASB calls on the legislature to set this rate within 30 days of the Governor’s submission of his budget, as required by Iowa law.
"For effective fiscal management to occur, school districts need a decision on supplemental state aid well in advance of the legislatively mandated deadlines required for setting their budgets," IASB President Dr. Jeff Anderson, of Boone, said. "Budgets must be certified by April 15; collective bargaining agreements have to be approved; curriculum needs to be purchased; and staffing decisions need to be made. If the legislature fails to follow Iowa law and waits until sometime after the start of the legislative session next year to set the supplemental state aid rate for FY 2016, districts will only have a matter of weeks to plan and set their budgets for the following year. Frustration with the lack of timeliness in establishing school funding levels can be heard at board tables all over the state."
IASB members established their legislative platform this past fall and approved it at the association’s November Delegate Assembly. Improved student assessments, education reform, and consistent and sufficient supplemental state aid were all identified as legislative priorities.
"If education is truly the state’s top priority, policymakers must provide consistent and sufficient funding. Last year the legislature passed and the Governor signed significant educational reform. The money has yet to be appropriated to fully fund all of those reforms. The legislature and the Governor need to fund the program they expect us to deliver," Anderson said.
IASB is a private, nonprofit organization representing Iowa’s 346 school districts, 9 area education agencies and 15 community colleges.