A big topic on the minds of everyone right now, especially parents, teachers and children, is going back to school. Amid all the uncertainty, everybody is doing their best in trying to provide some stability and certainty for students and their education. While things may be constantly changing for school districts, one thing they can depend on is sustainable and predictable state funding for schools, which is even more important given the economic impact of the coronavirus on the state budget.
Every year the legislature has a big debate on education funding for K-12 schools. Every year during my first term in the Iowa Senate, funding for K-12 schools increased by millions of dollars, on top of the funding they received the previous year. However, that is only part of the story. I am really proud of our work on transportation and per-pupil equity when it comes to education funding. It will have real benefits to many students in rural areas.
Rural schools, because the population is spread out over a larger geographic area, often must spend much more than urban schools on transportation in order to get students to and from school each day. Spending more on transportation meant less money was available to be spent in the classroom and less money on the tools students need to learn. Senate File 2164, which was passed and signed into law this year, was the legislature’s transportation and per pupil equity bill. It closed that gap in funding and leveled the playing field for transportation costs for school districts across the state.
Transportation equity among school districts is just one way to help ensure money for education is being spent in the classrooms and preparing Iowa students for success in school and beyond. I know the beginning of this school year is different for many students and educators, whether class is taking place at home, in the classroom, or both. I am confident everybody is working to achieve the same goal – helping students learn to the best of their abilities, while keeping everyone as safe as possible.