Thursday, May 22, 2014

Advocacy Matter: The Story of SF 220 - Signed by Governor on April 3, 2014

Advocacy Matters:  The Story of SF 220

Early Retirement Incentives

Rural School Advocates of Iowa (RSAI) began working on legislative priorities just after deciding to organize as an association to represent quality education for students in Iowa’s rural schools.  SF 220 was on the list of priorities developed in January 2014.  The bill was first passed by the Senate in the 2013 Session.  It lay dormant in the House Ways and Means Committee rather than going to the Education Committee for consideration.

What the bill does: Management Funds have been allowed to pay for the costs of early retirement for employees participating in the program who are at least 55 years old but not more than 65.  A court ruling prohibited school districts from setting an upper age limit on participants, so any teachers or administrators wanting to retire early required the district to pay for their benefits out of the school general fund. General funds are most precious for all school districts, but especially critical to rural schools with declining enrollment using an early retirement program to help manage budget reductions. 

Advocacy Actions:  Joel Davis, School Board member from Coon-Rapids Bayard and one of the founders of RSAI, met with Rep. Sands, chairperson of the House Ways and Means committee, in December. He explained the bill and asked for it to be referred to the House Education Committee.  Rep. Sands agreed.  Bob Olson, Superintendent , Clarion Goldfield and Dows, and Davis, met early in the Session with Rep. Jorgensen, Chair of the House Education Committee, asking for the assignment of a supportive subcommittee.  Davis also met with the Subcommittee members of Reps. Fry, Hanson and Gassman to advocate for the bill.  After explanation, they said it was a no brainer and the House Education Committee unanimously approved it, but ran an amendment to make the effective date apply to July 1, 2014 as a technicality to conform to the current year.  Knowing this bill could benefit the FY 2013-14 budget for a few schools already paying out of their general fund, RSAI requested an amendment to make the bill effective on enactment and retroactive to the current school year.  That amendment, H-8013 approved during House floor debate on March 18, accomplished the goal.  The bill was approved in the House with all 100 House members voting yes.

Status:  Sen. Beall was the floor manager of the original bill in 2013 and agreed to move the bill quickly in the Senate.  The Senate concurred with the House amendment on March 26, approved the bill 46 in favor, 2 opposed, sending the bill to the Governor. The Governor signed the bill on April 3.   This legislation will help schools using early retirement plans to redirect scarce general fund resources to staff and program supporting students.

For more information about RSAI, visit the web site or contact us at

RSAI Leadership Group

Brad Breon, Moravia/Seymour, Supt,

Gregg Cruickshank, Sidney/South Page, Supt,

Joel Davis, Coon-Rapids-Bayard, Board President,

Kevin Fiene, East Sac County, Supt,

Lee Ann Grimley, Springville, Board President,

Robert Olson, Clarion-Goldfield/Dows, Supt,

Brian Rodenberg, Midland, Supt,


RSAI Legislative Group:

Southwest - Jeff Hiser/Shenandoah Superintendent

Northeast  and Northwest: vacant

Southeast - Tom Rembe/Seymour Board Member

The RSAI Legislative Leadership Group is looking for two leaders, board member or superintendent, from the Northeast and Northwest regions to be elected at the annual meeting in September.  Please let us know if you are interested.