This past month our elected officials marked the start of the 86th Iowa General Assembly along with many newly elected leaders. With Republican control in both chambers, we expect a markedly different legislative session from those we’ve had in recent years.
We are keeping our eye on a number of important issues that have the potential to impact the AEA system including the following:
The decision to set the state cost per pupil, known as state supplemental assistance (SSA), is due to be enacted by Feb. 10 to meet the 30-day deadline in Iowa Code. Efforts have been underway to remind legislators that investing in Iowa public schools pays dividends in the future, with an educated workforce that contributes to our economy. This week, over 150 superintendents and AEA administrators held an “advocacy day” at the capitol to raise awareness about the impact of inadequate funding on Iowa’s schools. The day was a success in terms of the number of legislators who attended and listened to our impact stories, but the true indicator of success is the amount of funding we receive.
Based on the early numbers we’re seeing and feedback from our lobbyists, there is the potential that districts and the AEA system will see a reduction in funding for Teacher Leadership & Compensation (TLC) support and Iowa Core implementation dollars, and Supplemental State Aid established at a rate of 2% or lower. Preliminary budget figures also indicate that the Governor supports restoring the late session budget cut that directly impacted our AEA system, which is hopeful.
We will also be closely watching decisions made regarding what the new federal administration will do to impact Part B special education funding as that funding stream is critical to maintaining our current special education efforts.
Your Administrative Cabinet has been working hard to estimate the impacts of these potential funding changes on our organization. We don’t have a crystal ball, and we continue to work with estimates and rough figures; however, we have a fiscal responsibility to continue moving forward with finding as many efficiencies as we can in how we serve students, families and educators. As positions are left vacant by resignations and retirements, conversations will continue to occur around how best to fill the void. In many cases those positions will be replaced and in other cases, assignment of responsibilities may change.
On another note, I wanted to provide you with an update regarding our facilities. I am pleased to share that we have sold our Administrative Services Building! The board held a public hearing and meeting to approve the sale. The building has been purchased by an organization in the dentistry field and they plan to take possession in early April. That means that for those of us working in the building, we will be temporarily relocating to one of the other two buildings on the Cedar Falls campus. While a little inconvenient, it’s a small price to pay as our plan to downsize facilities plays out and we work toward renovating our new Central Rivers AEA home at 1521 Technology Parkway. Renovation plans are now complete and work will begin in earnest in late March/early April. We are still hopeful that we can be moved in and operational around July 1!
As always, thank you for your continued dedication to those that you serve. Despite the many organizational changes we are moving through, service to our educational partners has never been delivered at a higher level. Superintendents and others share their appreciation for your work on an almost daily basis. Thank you!