Iowa AEA system the focus of recent Des Moines Register article

An article in the Sunday, December 28 edition of the Des Moines Register made some interesting claims regarding the Iowa AEA system. For one, the article claimed that Iowa AEAs are more top-heavy and now have four times as many administrators as five years ago. In fact, during the last five years most AEAs, and especially those that have merged, have actually decreased the number of administrators or stayed relatively the same. No one has a four-fold increase. At AEA 267 we have reduced the number of administrators by 27.3% since our merger.

The reporter also claimed that the AEAs cost taxpayers more. It implied that AEA budgets have grown faster than appropriate. In fact, AEA 267’s general fund budget has grown less that the State of Iowa’s revenue. Declining enrollment continues to reduce the allowable growth rate of our general fund budget as does the limited growth and freezes in federal funding. Declining enrollment affects all but a couple Iowa AEAs. The federal limitations and freezes affect all AEAs.

The article further criticized AEAs for promoting from within or at least criticized those people for getting salary increases in relation to their new positions. Dean Meier, Mary Stevens and Paula Goetz were singled out because of their promotions to new positions. The AEA 267 Board and Administration has made a concerted effort in the past six years to develop in-house leadership opportunities and promote current staff to positions of greater responsibility. Salaries for promoted individuals are in line with the positions they hold according to corresponding positions within the Agency and according to market comparisons.

The article seems to have missed the point of mergers. AEAs 2, 6, and 7 merged to enable us to reduce from three chief administrators to one, to be able to consolidate human resources, payroll, business services, etc. in order to protect and even increase direct services to students, families and educators. At AEA 267 we can well document the savings in the above listed functions and the redirecting of those savings to direct services.

It is important to note that some side articles in the paper shared very positive information about Iowa’s AEAs. It recognized that the “demand for the agencies” work is higher than ever. In the last few days, many words of appreciation and support have been voiced from the superintendents of AEA 267. Our customer satisfaction survey scores are excellent. As we provide equitable, efficient, and effective services to our many partners, rest assured they appreciate our work. They appreciate our work because you, our staff, do good work.

The Register story may give you an opportunity to tell our AEA story to others. You, our staff, are the best ambassadors for AEA 267. As you tell our story, remember our promise:

We will provide educational leadership, services, and support to the children, families, and educators we serve to build their capacity to positively impact and increase student achievement.

As we fulfill our promise, we can work with the full realization that the customers of AEA 267 value and appreciate the equitable, efficient, and effective services we provide.

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2 Responses to Iowa AEA system the focus of recent Des Moines Register article

  1. Cathy Edwards says:

    It would be really great if the Waterloo Superintendant would share this information with all staff on thier email, since Denise Shares was quoted as saying Waterloo doesn’t need the AEA. This comment correctly quoted or not has created a situation in the school buildings of Waterloo staff making snide and or hostile comments to AEA support staff.

  2. Mary Stevens says:

    Dr. Gary Norris requested to meet with the AEA employees that provide services to the Waterloo School District to clarify the misperceptions contained in the Des Moines Register article. A meeting has been scheduled for Jan. 23rd at 4:00 at the Waterloo Administration Building in the board room. Dr. Norris and Dr. Denise Schares will talk with the AEA staff at that time. We hope all AEA employees who provide services to the Waterloo School District will attend this meeting.

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