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Iowa House Passes School Funding Package

A bill setting the level of funding for Iowa’s schools has advanced out of one chamber of the state legislature. The Iowa House on Monday passed a package that includes about $90 million in new funding for schools. That works out to an increase of just more than two percent. Governor Kim Reynolds earlier this year had proposed a 2.3% boost to school budgets. But Western Dubuque superintendent Rick Colpitts says he expected the number to fall closer to 2%. But the actual change in funding will be different for every district in the state, since many of the dollars are tied to enrollment. Colpitts says WD will be looking at a budget increase of closer to a half of a percent. Most of WD’s expenses come from employee salaries and benefits. Those costs rise by between three and four percent each year, which makes it difficult to keep up. The school funding measure does make permanent the additional transportation funds that lawmakers passed last year. As the largest district by land area in the state, Colpitts says WD will benefit greatly from having those dollars available. Western Dubuque is also among the thirty largest districts in the state by enrollment. But Colpitts has concerns about what keeping funding increases around two percent might mean for smaller districts. The school funding bill passed the Iowa House largely on a party line vote. Local Republicans Shannon Lundgren and Andy McKean were in favor, while Democrats Chuck Isenhart and Lindsay James voted against.

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