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The Waukee School Board will discuss and vote on a resolution introduced by board president Lori Lyon expressing its opposition to efforts in Iowa allowing families to choose the best educational experience for their children.

The Republican-led Iowa Legislature is considering bills that will allow families to receive some of the money spent educating their child in public schools to instead be used at an alternative educational setting. While the Waukee School Board resolution notes it opposes vouchers, vouchers are not the same as Education Savings Accounts.

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Here is a portion of the resolution:

● Public dollars are for the use of public community members. The public’s investment should be used to support public schools within our communities. Given the pandemic’s profound impact on public schools, it is important to ensure public funds support staff, programs and services that meet the needs of Iowa’s public schools. These schools serve all students regardless of race, religion, gender, socio-economic status, and disability. Private schools operate under no requirement to serve all students, making competition an unfair argument.
● Public funds require public accountability and transparency. The proposed bill illustrates
difficulties in ensuring appropriate oversight. Public schools are overseen by a publicly elected citizen governing board, are required to report academic results to the general public, have an annual public financial audit, and must be transparent with all expenditures and decision-making. Private and religious schools are not held to any of these standards.
● The benefits of strong public schools encourage both small and large businesses to invest in our communities and contribute toward expanded economic development throughout Iowa. A well-educated populace becomes an employable populace.
● This promises to be an ongoing, expansive, and costly voucher program. As demonstrated in other states, while voucher systems may start small, once programs are established, they are easily expanded. Underserved families will be unable to fund the difference between the amount of the provided voucher and the costs of tuition at a private institution. The proposed voucher program would divert crucial public dollars from Iowa public schools, which educate the vast majority of students in the state.
● Public school funding has remained at record low levels of increase for over a decade, limiting public school opportunities to innovate or expand future-ready program offerings. State legislators seem unable or unwilling to adequately fund even one educational system. A second taxpayer-funded voucher system promises to divert even more funding away from the public school system that is entrusted with educating the very large majority of young Iowans.

Lyon, if you recall, reportedly encouraged a parent of the Waukee School District to sue the district over a lack of a mask mandate.

The board will meet Monday, Feb. 14 at 6 p.m.

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