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Education Funding

One topic that is already receiving some discussion at the statehouse is funding for education. I thought that this week I would provide some general facts and figures regarding how much we spend on education.

· In FY 2015 (the 2014/2015 school year), Iowa will spend about $10,000 per K-12 student. That means in a class of 20, the taxpayers are spending $200,000 per classroom.

· The state’s share of education funding is at its highest level in the last 30 years.

· School districts are set to receive a 4 percent, or $155 million, increase for the 2014/15 school year. Additionally, the bipartisan education reform package approved in 2013 targets over $150 million for the teacher leadership program. Hundreds of additional teachers will be hired across Iowa.

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· Statistics that show Iowa is in 37th place nationally in regards to per-pupil spending are questionable. Notably that ranking comes from the NEA (teachers’ union). The U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Educational Statistics shows Iowa in 28th place.

· Any link between per-pupil spending and educational performance are shaky. Of the top 10 performing states, only four are in the highest funding list. Wyoming has the highest per pupil spending in the nation, but is towards the bottom in performance.

· Federal data shows that Iowa’s cost of living is nearly 10 percent below the national average. Therefore, every dollar spent here goes farther than it does in states with higher costs of living.

· According to a fall survey from the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, 66 percent of Iowans do not think per-pupil spending is too low and 65 percent believe the public school system is either good or excellent.

· The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released a report that found at least 34 states currently providing less funding per student for the 2013-14 school year than they did before the recession hit; while in 14 states, per-pupil funding has grown since the recession. However, only two states posted an increase of more than 10 percent - Iowa and North Dakota.

· Much like our antiquated expenditure limitation law, the law requiring school funding growth 18 months in advance is outdated. The expenditure limitation law allows the legislature and the governor to spend more than the state collects. The education funding statue allows, possibly even encourages, the over-promising that leads to across the board cuts and property tax increases. Making a funding promise to school districts without knowing other budget factors, including the amount of revenue, is poor budgeting.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me. Home phone: 515-382-2352. E-mail: Dave.Deyoe@legis.iowa.gov.)

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