House Offering 3% Increase in School Funding

by Brian Wilson
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Republicans in the Iowa House have voted to provide a three percent boost in per pupil state funding for public schools in the next academic year — as well as a three percent increase in state payments into Education Savings Accounts for private school students who’ll qualify for the program. Representative Phil Thompson, a Republican from Boone, says the plan calls for 3.8 Billion dollars in state spending on public schools in the next school year.

Representative Molly Buck, a Democrat from Ankeny, says with a three percent oost in per pupil spending — the 116 public school districts with shrinking enrollment will raise local property taxes to fill a gap, so next year’s budget isn’t lower than this year’s.

Representative Sharon Steckman, a Democrat from Mason City, says three percent just isn’t enough for schools dealing with inflation and trying to keep salaries high enough to hire and retain staff.

House Republicans plan to vote later to set beginning teacher salaries at 50-thousand dollars within two years. They’re also proposing a 15 dollar an hour minimum wage for paraeducators. House Speaker Pat Grassley says those moves are priorities for House Republicans.

A Senate committee has voted to increase the mandatory minimum salary for beginning teachers to just over 46-thousand dollars. In January, Governor Reynolds recommended a 50-thousand minimum salary for first-year teachers, as well as a 62-thousand dollar minimum salary for those who’ve been teaching for at least 12 years.

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