AEA Bill Headed to Governor

by Brian Wilson
0 comment

The Iowa Senate has given final approval to a bill that makes changes in Iowa’s Area Education Agencies, raises teacher pay AND increases general state education spending. Governor Reynolds says she’ll sign the package into law. The starting salary for teachers will rise to 50-thousand dollars within two years. There are raises for paraeducators along with a two-and-a-half percent increase in the state’s per pupil spending for public school students as well as the thousands of private school students who’ll get state-funded Education Savings Accounts this fall. Republican Senator Lynn Evans, a retired superintendent from Aurelia, added up all additional spending in the bill.

Governor Reynolds proposed an major overhaul of AEA’s in January. The legislature’s plan does not go as far as the governor’s but does shift AEA oversight to the Iowa Department of Education. Schools eventually will have the authority to spend funding for special education, teacher prep and other AEA services outside of the AEA system. Senator Cherielynn Westrich, a Republican from Ottumwa, says the bill provides needed transparency and accountability for the AEA’s.

A dozen Republicans joined Democrats in the Iowa House and Senate to vote against the package because of the A-E-A changes. Republican Senator Charlie McClintoch of Alburnett says he’d been holding out hope there might be enough votes to block it.

Senator Molly Donahue, a Democrat from Cedar Rapids, is a special education teacher. She says once large schools opt out of using AEA services, there will be far fewer AEA staff left to serve students in small districts.

Under the bill, 43 percent of Iowa school districts will get less state support for the next academic year because their enrollment is shrinking.

You may also like