Reynolds says public teachers’ pay, raising reading scores 2024 priorities

Governor Kim Reynolds says after providing state funded accounts to cover private school expenses, raising the pay of public school teachers will be on her 2024 legislative agenda.

During today’s taping of “Iowa Press” which airs Friday night on Iowa PBS, Reynolds indicated she’ll also focus on improving reading scores among public school students in the early grades, “so that we’re making sure that every student has an opportunity to succeed and be successful, so stay tuned. There’ll be more to come next year. I’m really excited to work on that over the interim.”

The average salary for a public school teacher in Iowa is about 10% below the national average. Reynolds said lawmakers are giving public schools authority to divert some already approved state funding to pay teachers more, but as she campaigned around the state for her plan to state help to parents who send their kids to private school, it was clear that pay for public school teachers is an issue.

“As I talked to rural administrators and worked with rural legislators, the two concerns were the…flexibility as well as being able to be competitive for teacher salaries,” Reynolds said. “They weren’t able to pay a lot of times as much as some of the more urban school districts were able to pay.”

At the end of the month, low income parents who enroll a child in a private school this fall will be able to apply for about $7600 in state money to cover tuition and other private school expenses. Some private schools have announced fall tuition increases, as high as 10% in some Catholic schools in the Diocese of Des Moines. Reynolds said that shouldn’t dilute the impact of the program.

“All schools are experiencing increased costs,” Reynolds said. “We’ve had our public schools talk about it, too, and that’s why every year we look at a State Supplemental Aid Payment because we recognize that there are increased costs…The other component of it is that private school teachers were paid considerably less than public school teachers and maybe this will make them be a little bit more competitive.”

Earlier this year, Reynolds approved a 3% increase in general state aid for public schools.