Weekly Update & Calls to Action:
2017 Legislative Priorities
The following 2017 Legislative Priorities each originated as key priority issues during the July Regional meetings. The Legislative Group worked carefully on this language as submitted to the RSAI members at the annual meeting. The members at the annual meeting approved this slate of priorities on Oct 12, 2016:
- Transportation Equity: Supports a mechanism that covers school transportation costs that does not unreasonably disadvantage property tax payers in property poor districts or compete with general funds otherwise spent on providing education to students. Position paper found here.
- State Penny for School Infrastructure Extension: RSAI calls on the Iowa Legislature to extend or repeal the sunset of the state penny for school infrastructure. Since voters in Iowa’s 99 counties approved the sales tax for public schools, any change in use of the revenue in the extension should be dedicated to educational purposes only. Position paper found here.
- Equality in the formula: RSAI supports raising the state cost per pupil to the maximum district cost per pupil in the formula. Position paper found here.
- Operational Sharing Incentives: Opportunities to achieve efficiencies, share capacity to operate, and redirect resources to educational programs, should be maintained and expanded to provide additional capacity to school districts to improve educational outcomes for students. Position paper found here.
- Funding and Flexibility for At-risk Students: Resources for serving at-risk students should be based on need, such as the number/percentage of students eligible for Free and Reduced Price Lunch, in addition to enrollment of the district. The current disparity in dropout prevention capacity ceiling, with some districts held to 2.5% and others allowed to access up to 5% of regular program district cost is unfair, arbitrary, and based on old history no longer relevant to supporting student needs. Districts should be given flexibility in determining the expenditure of at-risk resources to support students to graduate college/career ready for success. Position paper found here.
- Standards, Assessment and Technology for Assessment: RSAI supports the Iowa Content Standards, including an aligned assessment and supports for the technology and bandwidth required to adequately administer the assessment. Assessments required by the state must be funded by the state. Position paper found here.
- State Supplemental Assistance: Due to non-educational priorities of the legislature, the education of students in rural districts has been disadvantaged by many years of low per pupil increases. Formula funding is especially critical to rural Iowa due to transportation costs, economies of scale, unique needs of students, mandates and compliance, the need for quality AEA services, and the ability to attract and retain quality staff in rural Iowa. The survival of rural schools depends on the return of education as the state’s top priority with an investment of meaningful new resources to improve opportunities for students. The resurrection of this priority will take several years of significant investment, thus RSAI supports a minimum of 6% non-categorical funding, as long as new mandates are funded outside of the formula and not instead of it. The return to the legal and historical practice of setting the state cost per pupil as required by Iowa law exemplifies the prioritization of education. If the General Assembly does not set SSA in according with statutory timelines, the percent of SSA immediately reverts to the percent of state revenue growth predicted by the Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) for the year of the school budget being set, based on the March REC estimate for the out year, prior to any state general fund revenue reductions imposed by the legislature. Position paper found here.
- Rural Teacher Quality Program: RSAI supports a new Rural Quality Teacher Incentive Program, to ensure students in rural Iowa have access to great instruction and support district compliance with accreditation standards. Position paper found here.
- Summer School/Interventions: RSAI supports local district authority to determine if supplemental interventions during the school year, in addition to the regular program, would be more beneficial to non-proficient third-grade readers, if the district determines barriers will prevent offering a quality summer school program. Position paper found here.
- Quality Preschool: RSAI supports full funding of quality preschool. Due to changing demographics in rural Iowa, significant transportation costs, and lack of quality day care access, quality preschool for three- and four-year olds should be fully funded. Preschool students should be included in the regular student count at 1.0 per pupil cost. Position paper found here.
- Home Rule: District Flexibility: Iowa school districts should be subject to Home Rule to promote flexibility and creative decision-making as opposed to the more restrictive Dillon’s Rule interpretation of State authority. Position Paper Found here.