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Republicans agree on increase in spending for Iowa schools

DES MOINES — Republican Governor Kim Reynolds and key Republicans in the legislature met yesterday and settled on a “per pupil” spending level for the 2019/2020 school year.

They’ve agreed to boost general state support of public K-12 schools by a little more than two percent, slightly less than what Governor Reynolds recommended last month.

Senate Republican Leader Jack Whitver of Ankeny said the deal includes more money to offset transportation costs and address inequities in the state funding formula — for a total package of nearly $90 million more dollars to public schools.

“I think the most important thing when it comes to school funding is we promise an amount that we can actually fund,” Whitver says, “and this amount that we’re promising today is an amount that we’re very confident we’ll be able to fund in the future.”

The state’s education community had been lobbying for more.

“While we appreciate that 2.06 percent is better than the rates that have been assigned that last couple of years, we know that school districts in Iowa need at least three percent to keep up with the cost of inflation,” said Melissa Petersen, a lobbyist for the Iowa State Education Association, which represents about 34,000 Iowa teachers.

Last year, the Republicans at the statehouse approved a one percent hike in per pupil state funding for the current school year. The previous year, the increase was 1.1 percent. Legislative leaders expect the GOP’s general school spending level for next year to gain final approval in the House and Senate next week.


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