Iowa Republicans settle on education funding lower than governor’s proposal

    A hand puts a coin in a piggy bank on top of school books. (Photo by Getty Images)

    Republican leaders in the Iowa House and Senate have reached an agreement to meet in the middle and increase per-pupil funding for Iowa schools by 2.3%. That’s about $10 million less than Gov. Kim Reynolds pitched at the beginning of the 2020 session.

    About $85.57 million of new money will go to Iowa schools through supplemental state aid — a funding resource schools rely on to pay for everything from salary increases to class programming.

    Combined with funding that equalizes transportation costs and per-pupil spending, Republicans said the total package for schools is around $99 million.

    Initially, the Iowa House proposed increasing supplemental state aid for K-12 schools by 2.5% to keep in line with the governor’s proposal of adding $95 million. Senate Republicans proposed a 2.1% increase, adding $76 million.

    Democrats pushed for a 3% increase in both chambers, arguing school districts have been underfunded for years, resulting in cuts to staff and resources.

    Some Iowa school districts said even Reynolds’ recommendation was too modest to properly fund their districts. Officials from the Des Moines school district said they planned on cutting nearly $20 million this next fiscal year based off the 2.5% projection.

    The Iowa Senate will debate education funding on Wednesday and the House debate will follow at a different time. Both bills are expected to pass through their chambers.

    Linh Ta
    Reporter Linh Ta comes to Iowa Capital Dispatch from the Des Moines Register, where she covered trending news, public safety and the suburbs. Most recently, she has covered retail business and followed both national and local trends to provide insight about the issues that matter the most to Iowans. Beyond traditional journalism, Ta has worked as a speech coach with the Des Moines Storytellers Project with the goal of sharing the diverse perspectives of Iowans from all walks of life. She is the 2019 winner of the Young Iowa Journalist Award and the winner of an Iowa Broadcast News Award. Email her at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter @linhmaita.