Earlier this month, the Governor’s Education Policy Advisor (Linda Fandel) and Senate and House Education Committee leadership directed Iowa’s AEAs to look for increased efficiencies through the AEA system. Last week, the AEA chief administrators met again with Senate and House Education Committee leadership to ensure a common vision and timetable for this task and had a very healthy discussion around the development of a five-year plan designed to maximize efficiencies in Iowa’s AEAs while creating greater equity of services for all Iowa students.
Dr. Tom Lane, Iowa’s AEA Executive Director, has been following up these conversations, and we have collaborated on an agreement. Senators Sinclair and Kraayenbrink (Chair of Education Appropriations Committee) have agreed to language that calls for a reduction of AEAs from nine to seven and a reduction of AEA chief administrators from nine to seven. The timeline for accomplishing this will be five years. We anticipate that this language will be added in a late standings or appropriations bill before the session ends in April. The agreement provides the AEAs with a reasonable timeframe, while also providing a firm commitment to legislators. A five-year restructuring plan will help ensure a re-aligned AEA system that further enhances equity, innovates new statewide systems and helps us better articulate these efficiencies to all stakeholder groups.
We understand that this is an important announcement, and it may leave you with many questions. As an AEA system, our leadership team is committed to providing you with regular, timely updates as more details of this long-term process unfolds. I also want to mention that the early messages I’m receiving are that staff out in the field will likely feel much less of an impact of any future changes than those of us in administrative positions. I believe firmly that working for the AEA system is and will continue to be a secure and rewarding career choice. Although it may feel otherwise, the legislature deeply appreciates the value of our services. What you do matters to each and every child, educator and family you come in contact with.
Onward and upward.