When Will Schools See An Allowable Growth Plan? - ABC5 News Des Moines, IA

When Will Schools See An Allowable Growth Plan?

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By: Claire Powell
cpowell@myabc5.com
@clairenpowell

 

Allowable growth is the amount of funding the state legislators and Governor Branstad set for public schools across the state each year.

It's also an Iowa law that they pass an allowable growth plan 30 days after the Condition of the State Address, but for a second year, that hasn't happened. Now school districts are puzzled and frustrated.

"They're breaking their own rule, their own law! What kind of example does that set to students?" said Mary Jane Cobb, Iowa State Education Association.

"In order for us to, both short and long range planning, we need to know those dollar amounts," said Southeast Polk Superintendent Craig Menozzi. "It's in pencil, definitely not carved in stone. We're doing some preliminary planning but certainly not knowing what those dollars will be, we can't finalize any of those budgeting plans."

The budget uncertainty may affect teachers' salaries, create larger class sizes and cut programs that have been enhancing students' learning. School districts say they're not sure how much money they'll be given, so they don't know how much to spend.

"Everything is going up and school districts need to be able to plan and if they have to look at no growth then they'll look at cutting programs and that means some opportunities aren't going to exist for students," said Cobb.  

"We can't do reform, can't do change or school improvement on the cheap. We have to make sure we have the resources there," said Superintendent Menozzi.

While those schools wait on thousands of dollars in funding, the frustration just continues to grow.

"I think it speaks to priorities and if the children, schools and if the future education of our children was your priority, you would've done this by now," said Cobb.

Iowa currently ranks 37th nationally in school funding and is $1,500 behind the national average per student.  

"I just wish, that again, since we're trying to do world class schools and that's what we're trying to do, we've got to be sure we have the resources," said Superintendent Menozzi.

Gov. Branstad's office released a statement today saying:

 

Gov. Branstad is committed to ensuring Iowa's children have access to the best education in America. Last year, Gov. Branstad signed the largest investment in Iowa's schools in the state's history. His FY15 budget includes nearly $226 million in new money for Iowa's schools.

Gov. Branstad is committed to improving Iowa's education through the transformational education reform package passed last year. He believes we must continue to give school districts the stability and predictability they need and end the bad budgeting practices of the past that led to reckless across the board budget cuts that adversely affected Iowa's schools. 

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