At the RSAI annual meeting, October 7, 2015, members approved the following legislative priorities to guide advocacy
during the 2016 Legislative Session:
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:
1. Transportation Equity: Supports a mechanism that covers school transportation costs that do not unreasonably disadvantage property taxpayers in property-poor districts or compete with general funds otherwise spent on providing education to students. Click here to download.
2. Equality in the formula: RSAI supports raising the state cost per pupil to the maximum district cost per pupil in the formula. Click here to download.
3. 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. Click here to download.
4. Operational Sharing and Reorganization Incentives: Rural students benefit from opportunities to achieve efficiencies, share the capacity to operate, and redirect resources to educational programs. The Operational Sharing Incentives and Reorganization Incentives should be at least maintained and preferably expanded to provide additional capacity to school districts to improve educational outcomes for students. Click here to download.
5. 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. Click here to download.
6. State Supplemental Assistance: Formula funding is especially critical to students in 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 staff in rural Iowa. The sustainability of a quality education in 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 making sure that new mandates are funded outside of the formula and not instead of it. Click here to download.
7. Quality Instruction for Rural Students: In order to maintain student access to great teachers, rural school districts require maximum flexibility to meet licensure requirements. RSAI supports district authority to create online alternatives and allows dual enrollment courses to meet offer and teach requirements to ensure students in rural Iowa have access to great instruction and support district compliance with accreditation standards. RSAI also supports the reinstatement of the teacher shortage loan forgiveness program and consideration of additional incentives to encourage teachers to work in rural schools. Click here to download.
8. 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 should be fully funded. Preschool students should be included in the regular student count at 1.0 per pupil cost. Click here to download.
9. Student Mental Health Supports: Given the inadequate availability of mental health services, especially in rural Iowa, RSAI supports increased access to and funding for mental health services for children. Click here to download.
RSAI was formed in 2014 as a membership organization with a mission to advocate for students in rural schools to assure a fair, equal and quality education. RSAI consists of four regions in the state, used as the basis to form an elected leadership structure consisting of four regional representatives on the leadership group, each elected from their region to a three-year term, and three additional at-large members from anywhere in the state elected at the annual meeting, also for a three year term.
At the RSAI annual meeting, Oct. 25, 2014, members approved the following legislative priorities to guide advocacy
during the 2015 Legislative Session (click on each title to read the position paper in its entirety):