***The Iowa Standard is an independent media voice. We rely on the financial support of our readers to exist. Please consider a one-time sign of support or becoming a monthly supporter at $5, $10/month - whatever you think we're worth! If you’ve ever used the phrase “Fake News” — now YOU can actually DO something about it! You can also support us on PayPal at [email protected] or Venmo at Iowa-Standard-2018 or through the mail at: PO Box 112 Sioux Center, IA 51250

We have officially hit the halfway point of the 2020 session and debate has kicked into high gear. Both the House and Senate are spending significant time on the floor, passing bills off the floor so they have time to go through the committee process in the other chamber before our next funnel deadline.

This week, the House and Senate came to an agreement and finalized our K-12 funding package for the 2020-21 school year. Our plan will provide Iowa schools with nearly $100 million in new funding, with resources targeted for specific priorities like rural school transportation costs and per pupil equity. This will bring annual investment in Iowa schools to almost $3.4 billion. That represents an increase of almost $1 billion over the last decade.

This funding plan is a significant investment in our schools and Iowa’s future generations, and it continues our strong track record of supporting K-12 education. Student achievement in Iowa is high, as our students have the best ACT scores and graduation rate in the country. We have added almost 3,500 new teachers, class sizes are decreasing even with enrollment growth, and Iowa teacher pay is among the most competitive in the nation. We, as Iowans, should be incredibly proud of the education system we have in our state.

Not only have we provided schools with significant resources to improve the learning experience for students, we have also provided schools with funding to ensure safe classrooms and modern facilities. You may recall that last session House Republicans spearheaded the extension of the SAVE fund that schools use for infrastructure need. Not only does this provide schools with billions in additional funding to revitalize aging school buildings or improve school security features, it also provides property taxpayers with significant relief. This was a major win for both schools and taxpayers and we were proud to lead the charge.

However, funding isn’t the only part of K-12 that we are addressing this session and as we move ahead, we are looking at additional ways to improve Iowa’s education system. We are been working on legislation to help train teachers on strategies to deal with disruptive student behavior in the classroom and keep students and staff safe, while also giving the support these teachers need to best manage their classrooms.

Other major priorities that need action include our plans to increase access to affordable child care, expand high-speed internet to underserved areas, and helping local governments provide EMS services to their citizens. I expect these to be taken up in the House very soon.

Author: Pat Grassley