Schools react to funding debate

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Republican leaders in the Iowa House and Senate are still working to agree on how much new funding to put toward schools.

The House approved a $32 million increase in funding on Wednesday but hours later the senate passed a bill with $14 million more.

Now the measure heads back to the house.

Both versions only come out to about a 1% increase in state education funding.

We reached out to several area districts and all they all agree that’s really not enough.

Following a change in teacher bargaining rights last session, Iowa City Community Schools settled on a 2-year contract with its teachers.

Chief Financial Officer Craig Hansel says teachers are getting a 2.68% increase in compensation and if districts only see a 1% increase in funds from the state, they will have to save money elsewhere to balance their own budgets.

If you compare the funding growth from 2008-2012 it averaged about 3.8% but with an average of 1.8% growth in the year’s since then, Hansel says the impact is huge.

“It would make a $1,200 difference in your cost per pupil and for Iowa City Schools that’s over $17 million a year in our budget more than we have now. What do you think we could do with $17 million more? That’s a lot of teachers, that’s a lot of lowering class sizes, that’s a lot of doing great things for kids.”

Linn-Mar Community School District officials say the likelihood of a small increase is disappointing.

They say 82% of their budget goes to paying for staff and they will have to make difficult decisions when it comes to hiring and other resources needed to educate their students.

"If the increase were 2% or above we would be able to better provide those adequate resources that we need for our students and teachers which is just critical to public education," says Matthew May, Communications Coordinator for the Linn-Mar Community School District.

School Leaders in Central City say small districts will be hit even harder.

Superintendent, Tim Cronin says the number of students impacts the amount of funding they receive but proportionally the cost of running a smaller district is more expensive.

“If Linn-Mar’s ten times bigger than us we can’t get by with one tenth of a superintendent, their administration, teachers, classes, food service, and bus drivers they’re going to need fewer people proportionally that we do,” explains Cronin.

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