Monday, April 21, 2014

No Action Yet on School Per Pupil Funding for FY 2016

April 17, 2014
No Action Yet on School Per Pupil Funding for FY 2016

Please contact me with any questions, (515) 201-3755  

Supreme Court Decision:  State of Iowa v. Nicoletto, April 11, 2014 This decision overturned the conviction of a high school basketball coach for sexual misconduct.  The coach has a coaching authorization but is not a licensed teacher.  He had a relationship with one of the basketball players (she was over age 16). He was prosecuted for sexual exploitation by a school employee in violation of Iowa Code 709.15(3)(a), convicted and sentenced for 5-years, and appealed.
Relevant Iowa Code Sections:  709.15(1)(f) Sexual exploitation statute defines “school employee” as “a practitioner as defined in section 272.1.”  272.1(7) defines “practitioner” as “an administrator, teacher or other licensed professional, including an individual who holds a statement of professional recognition, who provides education assistance to students.”
Nicoletto appealed, stating he wasn’t a school employee as it applies to this law.  “School employee” isn’t defined in the criminal statute, but cross references to “a practitioner as defined in 272.1,” which pertains to the Board of Education Examiners section.   Nicolette claims he isn’t a professional, since one can get a coaching authorization in two weekends of classes.  He also cites Section 232.69(1)(b)(4) which separately lists licensed school employees and holders of coaching authorizations as mandatory reporters. He says if “other licensed professionals” means holders of coaching authorizations, if would render the distinctions made elsewhere in the Code superfluous.
Justice Appel writes for the majority:  “Although a coach who holds a teaching or other professional license is clearly subject to the statute, a mere holder of a coaching authorization without a professional license within the meaning of section 272.1(7) does not fall under the sexual exploitation statute.”
Possible legislative action includes a leadership bill, which is exempt from funnel dates, or inclusion in the standings appropriations bill.  Education stakeholder groups, the country attorneys association, the DE and the Board of Education Examiners have been working to find appropriate language to resolve the issue.  We expect to see a bill soon defining school employee for the purposes of this criminal statute 709.15(1)(f) to include a coach or advisor for a school-sponsored activity, whether serving in a paid or volunteer status. 

Education Budget Work in Progress
         The House amended and approved SF 2347, the line-item budget spending a total of $986.1 million for FY 2015 Education Appropriations, on April 16.  The UEN is registered as monitoring the bill.  The Senate refused to concur with the House amendment and the House insisted on their changes, so a conference committee has been assigned.  The conference committee met this morning, April 17, and elected their chairs. The Senate conference committee members include Sen. Schoenjahn, Chair, and Senators Horn, Quirmbach, Sinclair and Boettger. The House members include Rep. Dolecheck, Chair, and Representatives R. Taylor, Highfill, Winckler and Steckman.
          Conference Committee Process:  The Committee from both chambers and both parties reviews differences in their two bills and must choose from among those in one bill or the other (no new language).  Once a conference committee votes with a majority in each chamber’s representatives on the committee supporting the agreement, it moves to the full House and Senate.  Legislators may vote yes or no for the compromise, but no amendments are allowed.  If it fails in either chamber, a new Conference Committee is appointed and the new committee isn’t limited to ideas in either bill.
The following are differences compared to the Senate version as reported in the March 28 and April 4 weekly updates:
·         Iowa Core Funding:  The Senate bill requires the DE to use $1,000,000 out of their general administration appropriation for purposes of implementing the content and assessment standards adopted pursuant to section 256.7, subsections 26 and 28, which is the cross reference for the core.    The House amendment strikes the specific requirement for DE to support the Core.
·         Reading Research Center and Screening Tools:  The Senate diverted from the Governor’s recommendation and eliminated $1.9 million for the FAST/Multi-tier Support System for early elementary reading. The House amendment adds $925,000 to the DE administration line item, which is combined with the $1.0 million Senate increase that would have supported the Core implementation.  The House directs the DE to provide the screening tools for early elementary reading at no charge to school districts.  The Screening tools remain a UEN priority, since DE Rules effective in March require districts to use a screening tool for early elementary that meets standards approved by the department.  Without the funding, school district will have to purchase the tools.  

·         The House amendment also strikes the language and $1.0 million Senate appropriation for anti-bullying efforts.

·         The House amendment also lowers the Senate’s increased appropriation to the University of Iowa by $4 million.  The bill as amended would come in at $2.0 million below the joint budget target for the education budget.  Rep. Dolecheck, subcommittee chair, explained his intent to redirect that $2.0 million to the AEAs, by reducing their budget cut from $15 million to $13 million in the standings appropriations bill, formerly HSB 688, but renumbers as HF 2473. 
See the complete list of line item appropriations impacting PK-12 education in the March 28 UEN report.  The Legislative Services Agency has also written an analysis of the bill, Notes on Bills and Amendments (NOBA) available
Standings Appropriations and One-time Debt Reduction & Savings Pending
The Standings Appropriations bill is typically one of the last appropriations bills introduced and sent to the Governor. HSB 688 was introduced last week and approved in the House Appropriations Committee with minor technical amendment.  It is now number HF 2473.  This bill may include other issues important to education, such as setting the state cost per pupil for FY 2016, ELL eligibility for an additional year or preschool expansion incentives by the time the Senate is finished with their action.  The House must first pass it on the floor.

Other Bill Action
SF 366 Radon Testing and Mitigation Reporting, Senate concurred with House amendment which eliminated the testing and mitigation mandates.  The bill requires the DE to provide information to schools regarding the risks of radon, including information on radon testing and mitigation, relevant statistical data, sources of funding for testing and mitigation, and encouragement to schools to implement a radon testing and mitigation plan.  The DE is also required to survey schools on the status of radon testing and mitigation plans by Dec. 1, 2014, and report to GA by Jan. 1, 2015.  There is no testing or mitigation mandate in the bill. This bill was sent to the Governor on April 15, his signature pending.
Advocacy Plan:  Continue contacts from grassroots networks, staff and school leaders.  Request that the Legislature set the state cost per pupil for FY 2016 before adjourning this Session.  This discussion isn’t over until they adjourn.
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.  Engage your grassroots and parent groups.  Link the call to action on your personal and district Facebook page. The Mar. 13 RSAI Call to Action includes a sample letter from parent to legislator/Governor to get started. School Funding Decision Needed Now (w/parent letter) found on the RSAI 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 impact of a delayed decision on your district or share details from one of the education coalition funding facts of the week.  If your district is eliminating positions or programs, please let the media know and share the funding fact linked below.

Education Coalition Joint Advocacy:  Thanks to ISEA, IASB, SAI, Iowa AEAs and the UEN for working together in this collaborative effort!  A new Point/Counter Point document is available to help advocates communicate effectively with legislators opposed to action this year. Look for notice in this week’s funding fact of the week email on Monday.
Funding fact of the week:  This weekly funding fact is designed to help local advocates generate conversations and fuel the enthusiasm for setting the state percent of growth for FY 2015-16 during the 2014 Session. The first issue detailed Iowa’s 37th in the nation ranking in total per pupil expenditures.  Previous issues may be found here and a direct link to the current issue is found here:

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

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