Senate and House agree: 2.4% increase in school funding for next year

By: - February 17, 2021 2:33 pm

(Photo by Getty Images)

State supplemental aid for Iowa schools will grow by 2.4% for the 2021-2022 school year under a bill passed by the House and the Senate.

The House passed its version of the school funding bill Feb. 11. The Senate, which had approved a 2.2% increase on Feb. 9, voted Wednesday in favor of the House bill, passing it 31-18. Senate File 269 will be sent to Gov. Kim Reynolds to be signed into law.  

“This will add $179 per every child enrolled in Iowa’s schools today,” Senate Education Committee Chair Amy Sinclair, R-Allerton, said. “This is a solid funding bill that sets our schools on a predictable, reliable, fundable path into the future.”

All told, the bill will increase state aid to schools from the general fund by $36.5 million, according to a fiscal report from the nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency.

The final bill does not include any additional funding for COVID-19-related expenses.

An initial Senate school funding proposal included a provision for an additional $30 million to Iowa schools that had complied with the state’s reopening orders in 2020. That would mean, in effect, every school district except Des Moines Public Schools. That section was struck from the bill which passed Wednesday.

Legislators are likely to consider additional bills to allocate more money to schools based on COVID-19 response. The House Education Committee moved House File 532, a bill that would distribute $30 million to Iowa schools based on how many days of in-person learning they offered. That’s on deck for the Appropriations Committee to look at next.

Another education bill likely on the way: preschool funding. Sen. Sarah Trone-Garriott, D-Windsor Heights, proposed an amendment to the Senate’s school funding bill which would allow schools to use old enrollment figures to predict enrollment for the 2021-2022 school year. Using the 2020 enrollment numbers may not account for the students who withdrew from school during the pandemic and will likely be returning in the fall.

Although the amendment failed, Sinclair in her closing remarks said the Education Committee would bring forward a proposal to address that issue.

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Katie Akin
Katie Akin

Katie Akin is a former Iowa Capital Dispatch reporter. Katie began her career as an intern at PolitiFact, debunking viral fake news and fact-checking state and national politicians. She moved to Iowa in 2019 for a politics internship at the Des Moines Register, where she assisted with Iowa Caucus coverage, multimedia projects and the Register’s Iowa Poll. She became the Register’s retail reporter in early 2020, chronicling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Central Iowa’s restaurants and retailers.