Thursday, March 13, 2014

March 13, 2014 School Funding Advocacy Needed

March 13, 2014
School Funding Advocacy Needed
Please contact me with any questions, (515) 201-3755.  
Advocacy Plan:  Lobby from home day, Thursday, March 13 (Friday and through the weekend):  Set the state cost per pupil for FY 2016 before this legislature adjourns.
The Education Coalition (UEN, IASB, AEAs of Iowa, SAI and ISEA) is planning a “lobby from home” day next week to generate many phone and email contacts before people head off to Spring Break and before the legislature starts to wind down.  Send email and make phone calls striving for three contacts per advocate (more if your district is represented by several legislators).  Use a pyramid model where each advocate encourages another to also contact their legislators and the governor. Turn your grassroots and parent groups loose.  Use the RSAI call to action, Mar. 13, which includes a sample letter from parent to legislator to get started. School Funding Decision Needed Now (w/parent letter) found on the RSAI legislative web page

Contact information:
Call or email Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds and your legislators and leave a message:  schools need sufficient school funding, at least 6% per pupil for the 2015-16 school year, determined this session.  
·         Office of the Governor: State Capitol | 1007 East Grand Ave. | Des Moines, Iowa 50319, Phone: 515.281.5211 | Contact Us (
·         To reach members of the Iowa House and Senate:.
o   Find your legislator here: 
o   Email your legislators. The correct email address configuration is: and can be verified at the above link.
o   Call the Switchboard. Leave a message for your representative at 515.281.3221 or for your senator at 515.281.3371
·         Write a letter to your local newspaper explaining the information above in this call to action or sharing details from one of the education coalition funding facts of the week.
Appropriations Progress:  none to report following last week’s release of budget targets.  The two Education Appropriations Subcommittee meetings scheduled for this week were cancelled.  Starting points for discussion on various line items in the education budget are under development in both chambers.  Perhaps a bill will be introduced next week.  
Funnel Deadline:  March 14 (Friday this week) is the next official funnel deadline by which bills must be approved by committee in the other chamber rather than their chamber of origin in order to move forward (Senate files approved by House Committees and House files approved by Senate Committees.)  Appropriations, ways and means (tax policy) and leadership bills are exempt from the funnel deadlines.  Remember that any dead bill may show up as an amendment in another bill to which it is topical (germane), as part of an appropriations bill or if the body agrees, by suspension of the rules.  No further House or Senate Education Committee meetings are posted this week, so we don’t anticipate additional bills will move before Friday’s deadline.  The following bills received floor consideration this week:
Senate Committee Action
         HF 2194 Procedure change for setting cost per pupil:  Senate Education Committee recommended amendment S-5059 to replace the language in this bill (known as a strike-after amendment since all words in the bill after the enactment clause are replaced with the words in the amendment).  The amendment sets a 6% increase in the state cost per pupil for the 2015-16 school year. This action keeps the conversation alive since previous Senate bills to set 6% did not get out of the House Education Committee, thus did not survive the funnel.  The Committee heard testimony from Superintendents Stan Rheingans (Dubuque), Greg Darling (Humboldt and Twin Rivers) and Tim Taylor with SBO Karen Shimp (Ames), explaining the consequences to schools of delaying the decision until next session.  See the March 13 Education Funding Call to Action for talking points to contact your legislators.  This bill moves to the Senate Calendar with amendment recommended. 
         HF 2388 defines a process for an AEA liaison for foster care, if one exists at the AEA, to help navigate the transition for students in foster care from one district to another. There is neither a mandate for AEAs to hire this position nor funding to pay for it if they did.  This bill moves to the Senate Calendar. 
          HF 2389 requires the BOEE to include in educators ethics and code of conduct a prohibition of sexual or romantic relationship between a licensed staff member and a student they taught or supervised (ie., coached) for at least 90 days after the student graduates or leaves the school. 
          SF 2318 Anti-Bullying/Safe Schools Bill was amended by S-5060 and approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The amendment places professional development requirements in the district or attendance center plan rather than in the teacher’s individual PD plan,, made several references to outcomes based training in addition to the research-based phrase in the original bill, and made several other mostly technical changes.  The bill moves to the Senate Appropriations Calendar (immune from funnel dates.)
House Committee Action

SF 2319 Defining Dyslexia was approved by the House Education Committee on March 12. The bill, as amended by amendment H-8115 requires the Reading Research Center to work with the DE and AEAs to provide no cost professional development to early elementary teachers to improve skills of all students in reading, conditional on an appropriation in the budget.  The bill requires districts provide assistance to students to include but not be limited to strategies that formally address dyslexia, when appropriate and defines dyslexia as a specific and significant impairment in the development of reading, including but not limited to phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension, that is not solely accounted for by intellectual disability, sensory disability or impairment, or lack of appropriate instruction. The bill moves to the House floor with recommended amendment.
SF 366 Radon Testing and Mitigation:  was amended by H-8114 and approved by the House Local Government Committee. The amendment removes requirements for school districts to test or mitigate and instead requires the DE to send information to public and nonpublic schools about dangers of radon, requires districts and nonpublic schools to report to the DE by year end activities regarding mitigation and testing.  The DE is required report to the General Assembly next year on status of schools actions reported. 
House Floor Action
HF 2439 Student Data and References to Iowa Common Core.  This bill changes Iowa Code references in current law to the Iowa Common Core to remove the word “common” , replaced with Iowa Core Content Standards. The bill allows a district to administer a different assessment to students but the assessment is prohibited from replacing the existing Iowa assessments.   The bill also states legislative intent:  “The Iowa core content standards shall not dictate curriculum or prescribe a particular method of instruction to school districts and accredited nonpublic schools. . . .It is the intent of the general assembly that selection and implementation of curriculum, textbooks, educational materials, and instructional methods remain with school districts and accredited nonpublic schools and not with the state or federal government.”  The bill requires the DE to set up a process to solicit public comment, to maintain a website through which the public can access the core content standards and requires regular review of public input by the state board of education. The bill also prohibits the DE or State Board of Education from changing the Iowa Core Content Standards without first submitting an annual report to the legislature, and creates a new Code section regarding student data policies, procedures and plans.  The bill moves to the Senate Education Committee, but without that committee meeting again, will die due to the funnel deadline. 

School Funding:  Background on prior action and bill numbers: the Senate approved and sent to the House, the following bills still assigned to the House Education Committee. There has been no indication that the House will take up this conversation this year.
         SF 2079Sets 6% increase to the state cost per pupil (formerly known as allowable growth) for FY 2016, passed on partisan vote all Democrats in favor and all Republicans opposed. 
         SF 2077Sets 6% growth for categorical supplements (PD, TSS and early intervention/class size) for FY 2016, passed on partisan vote all Democrats in favor and all Republicans opposed. 
         SF 2078: Property Tax Replacement Payments:  makes permanent the state’s replacement of the property tax impact of allowable growth/state supplemental assistance, passed unanimously (49-0).  
Timing:  House bill HF 2194, approved 53-43 on Feb. 14 in the Iowa House, changes when the state cost per pupil would be set
         Currently, Iowa Code 257.8 requires state cost per pupil and categorical fund percent increases to be set within 30 days of the governor’s budget for the out year (Feb. 13, 2014 is deadline to set July 1, 2015 rate)
         In odd numbered years, state cost per pupil for the upcoming July 1 and the out year are both set.  The legislature wouldn’t act in the even numbered year
         Democrats in the floor debate quoted school superintendents responding to a survey in which 98% said the funding decision should not be delayed to next Session.  They talked about the timelines required to set a quick budget, the difficulty with scenario planning, and suggested the legislature should follow the law.

Education Coalition Joint Advocacy:  Thanks to ISEA, IASB, SAI, UEN and Iowa AEAs for this collaborative effort!
Funding fact of the week:  the coalition is preparing a weekly funding fact to generate local conversations and fuel the enthusiasm for setting the state percent of growth during the 2014 Session. The first issue detailed Iowa’s 37th in the nation ranking in total per pupil expenditures, now $1,514 below the national average.  Prior issues are linked on the UEN legislative page, here’s the link to this week’s publication on ending balances and revenues: 

Sign up to receive the Education Funding fact of the week here:

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