As an AEA employee, we’re sometimes asked questions that we may have NO clue how to answer. Or we’ve heard something about that topic in one of our meetings but don’t have a clear answer.
One topic that continues to bubble up is the line item in a school district budget that indicates AEA flow-through dollars. Since AEA funds appear in the local district’s Aid and Levy Worksheets, it has led some people to the mistaken belief that these funds belong to the local school district.
When the Iowa Legislature created Iowa’s Area Education Agencies in 1975, it also created a separate funding stream for the AEAs specifically to fund its services. No school district dollars were ever reduced or reallocated in the creation of the AEA system funding.
With no direct taxing authority, AEA funding had to appear on some other entities’ books for accounting purposes. Because AEA funding is based on per pupil allocations tied to local district enrollments, funding shows up as flow-through funds from each individual district in the area. The AEA budget in total was, and still is, intended to be used to provide mandated services throughout the region for all of the public and private schools not for individual school purposes.
In February 2009, the Fiscal Division of the Legislative Services Agency issued this statement after its review of AEAs: “the method of distribution of AEA funding is strictly for accounting purposes, the school district budget is not impacted.”
The AEA flow-through money is intended to equalize, as much as possible, educational opportunities for all schools, both public and accredited nonpublic, within an AEA region. Without the cooperative services of the AEAs, inequities between school districts would increase and learning opportunities for students would vary greatly. AEAs require the allocated funds to provide equitable educational opportunities. Any reduction in funding would impact the ability of the AEA to provide mandated services to the districts.
The flow-through money is not, and has never been, district money. To allow those dollars to be “rolled-over” into a single district budget would result in harm to the group.
As ambassadors of Area Education Agency 267 and Iowa’s Area Education Agencies, please feel free to share this information when the situation arises.