Friday, April 11, 2014

School Per Pupil Funding Decision for FY 2016 Still in Limbo

April 10, 2014

School Per Pupil Funding Decision for FY 2016 Still in Limbo

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

Education Budget Work in Progress

The Senate approved SF 2347, the line-item budget spending a total of $986.1 million for FY 2015 Education Appropriations, on April 1.  The total is $87.2 million above FY 2014 and $111,830 above the Governor’s Recommendation.   The House Education Appropriations Subcommittee met this morning and approved an amendment on party-line vote, republicans in favor and democrats opposed and the House Appropriations Committee approved the amendment and moved the bill forward to the House Floor, also on a party-line vote.   The following are differences compared to the Senate version as reported in the March 28 and April 4 weekly updates:
·        Iowa Core Funding:  Also noteworthy in this budget is the elimination of the line item appropriation for DE support of the Iowa Core.  Historically, support of the Core was a distinct appropriation of $1.0 million.  The bill eliminates the distinct appropriation and increases the DE general administration line-item by $1.0 million.  The Senate bill specifies “from the moneys appropriated in this subsection, $1,000,000 shall be used 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:  In FY 2014, the Center was funded at $1,331,000.  The DE originally requested $2.0 million in funding for the Center, which would be an increase of $669,000. The DE also requested $1.9 million for the FAST screening assessment.  The Governor’s recommendation was $3,931,000 to include funding to scale up provision of free assessment tools for screening of reading in early elementary (FAST assessments) under the Reading Research Center.  For those districts planning on training teachers this summer and implementing the FAST screening assessments this fall, this difference in appropriation is significant and worthy of contacting your legislators. Without the appropriation, the Rules on to implement Chapter 62, “State Standards for Progression in Reading,” which became effective March 26, 2014, still require school districts to use a screening tool which meets department adopted minimum standards.  Without the state provision of the tools, school districts will have to purchase individually.  The House amendment adds funds, which combined with the $1.0 million in the DE administrative line item that would have supported the Core implementation, and instead includes language that directs the DE to provide the screening tools for early elementary reading at no charge to school districts. 

·         The House amendment also strikes the language and 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, HSB 688. 
See the complete list of line item appropriations impacting PK-12 education in the March 28 RSAI Legislative Update.   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 this week, a sure sign that the session is getting closer to adjournment.   It historically includes the state foundation aid appropriation for the coming year (2014-15) based on the per pupil cost set earlier by the legislature. It also historically includes policy language and other appropriations of priority to a chamber or the Governor that didn’t make it through the traditional process, although at this point, there is very little policy language in the bill.  It does include the addition $2.0 million to the AEAs referenced in the education budget discussion above.  If any action is to be taken on preschool flexibility or ELL weightings or length of eligibility, expect some language in the Standings Appropriations bill as amendments progress through the chambers. We will keep you posted.

The one-time Debt Reduction and Savings bill has been used in recent years to find savings and redirect them to one-time expenditures in keeping with the republican budget principles:  no ongoing expenses associated with one-time revenues.  It would be possible in this bill to advance the participation of school districts with quality TLC rubric scores in their applications for TLC grants to begin participation July 1, 2014.  Since $50 million is already included in the FY 2016 budget, this is a one-time expenditure.  An issue brief describing the issue and fiscal impact is posted on the UEN web site here.

Other Bill Action
SF 2351 Preschool Expansion Incentives approved by Senate Appropriations Committee on April 9.  This bill provides a 20% additional weighting applied to growth in statewide voluntary preschool program enrollment.  The expenditure of funds is provided flexibility to grow PK access with a goal of eliminating waiting lists. The bill includes flexibility language for SVPP dollars with specific mention of transportation proration, outreach activities and rent within the category of administrative expenditures and allows up to 10% administrative costs for both districts and community partners.  The bill now moves to the Senate Calendar.
HF 2360 Transportation Levy Subcommittee met with Reps. Vander Linden, Prichard, and Stanerson.  The bill allows school districts with transportation costs above the average to access a levy approved by voters, funding with property tax or income surtax, for a period of up to 10 years.  The bill allows the funds to pay for fuel, repairs and bus maintenance. Subcommittee members asked about the next school finance interim study committee and possibility of discussing transportation inequities during that conversation.  At the conclusion of the subcommittee, the legislators did not indicate their willingness to move the bill forward or what next steps might be.  The bill may just stay in the House Ways and Means Committee. 
Broadband Internet Expansion Incentives SF 2324 in Senate Appropriations today and HF 2329 in House Ways and Means, with slight differences in the bills (eg., Senate no longer includes access to ICN for providers but House still has it.)   
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.
Governor’s Signature
·         SF 2319 Literacy, early reading and services for students with dyslexia:  The bill 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. A fiscal note details the costs of the bill including training.  The Governor signed the bill on April 9.
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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