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Parents for Great Iowa Schools hosts education-focused legislative forum

Senators Mark Chelgren and Herman Quirmbach took questions from parents with students in public schools. (Photo: Steffi Lee)

Parents advocating for the future of Iowa schools had a chance to meet with lawmakers from both parties following a day with developments in school funding.

Republicans are proposing a 1.11 percent increase in K-12 state aid, which Democrats say will further hurt Iowa schools. Democratic leaders in the first few weeks of the session said an online survey of more than 100 school superintendents showed a majority of them wanted to see a four percent increase in education funding. Governor Terry Branstad had proposed a two percent increase over the next two years during his Condition of the State address.

The group "Parents for Great Iowa Schools" hosted a forum with Senator Mark Chelgren, R - Wapello County, and Senator Herman Quirmbach, D - Ames, who work on the Senate Education Committee.

Both provided their stances on the funding formula.

"When you see as Sen. Quirmbach pointed out, a 1.11 funding increase, it is because I believe and a lot of my colleagues believe we would rather promise something we know we can deliver and then if there's money in the end, to give more, than promise you something we can't deliver," Chelgren said.

"If our kids are our first priority, as we always say, then we ought to put our money where our mouth is," Quirmbach said. "We have not been keeping up with adequate funding levels in the K-12 system, adjusted for inflation over the last six years, the cumulative increase has been 0.5 percent."

Both Quirmbach and Chelgren also say Iowa does need to do more to improve its outcomes in science and technology education.

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