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Republican State Sen. Brad Zaun is determined to find a way to make sure dollars are spent in the classroom rather than administrative costs inside Iowa’s public schools.

Zaun has a bill to cap spending on administrative costs at five percent for each district.

In 1993, the total expenditures per student in Iowa public schools was $5,440. Twenty-five years later it had jumped to $13,595.

If adjusted for inflation, the cost was $9,456 in 1993.

Even though spending per student went up 44 percent, only nine percent of that increase went to teacher salaries.

Students increased by four percent from 1993 to 2019, but total staff jumped 27 percent.

There was a 604 percent increase in instruction coordinators, 195 percent increase in instructional aides, 140 percent increase in district administrators and 132 percent increase in district administrative support staff.

Meanwhile, there was just a 13 percent increase in teachers.

Iowa public schools now employ more non-teachers (40,730) than teachers (35,618).

If the growth in all other staff (staff other than teachers) would have matched the four percent enrollment growth of students, Iowa public schools would have saved an astonishing $755 million in annual recurring savings.

Iowa could have given every teacher an increase of $22,200 in compensation with that $755 million per year. Or it could have given over 125,000 students $6,000 Education Savings Accounts. Or it could have reduced property taxes. Or it could have combined any of those scenarios.

Iowa test scores did not increase on Grade 8 NAEP scores from 2003-2019. So the argument could be made that such a staffing surge was not exactly the ideal use of the funds.

Iowa has decreased in mathematics and reading for the NAEP Grade 8 math and reading scores from 2003-2019.

There are 6.7 students per total staff in Iowa public schools. The national average is 7.7.

There are 14.5 students per teacher in Iowa, while the national average is 16 students per teacher.

The national average of students per central office staff is 142. In Iowa it is 81.

Author: Jacob Hall