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SAI identifies legislative priorities for 2018

Thursday, November 9, 2017  
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SAI’s Representative Council has approved the association's priorities for the 2018 legislative session, which begins January 8. SAI’s Legislative Committee formulated the platform during a series of meetings starting August 2 at the Annual Conference.

Supplemental State Aid

Due to low levels of funding growth, averaging just 1.8 percent per year over the past seven years, school districts in Iowa are under tremendous financial pressures. For the 2018-19 school year (FY19) we support an increase in SSA that provides adequate resources for students and teachers, is timely and equitable, and takes into account overall state revenue growth.

Any increase should not be calculated by including categorical funding. Categorical funding should be increased at the same rate as Supplemental State Aid.

Operational Sharing

We support the removal of the sunset for operational sharing incentives. These supports have been critical to small and rural school districts as they deal with declining enrollments and increased transportation costs. Encouraging sharing of administrative and business functions across school districts makes good economic sense and is consistent with recent legislative endeavors to encourage operational efficiencies for school districts.

SAVE

We support the removal of the SAVE sunset. The extension of this revenue source is urgently needed for this funding to successfully address school district facility needs. The resources for this program should not be diverted for any other uses by the Legislature and/or Executive Branch. SAVE has provided school districts with a means to mitigate property tax increases, and in many instances lower local property taxes. Removal of the sunset will enable school districts to continue with these successes.

School Transportation Equity/Per-Pupil Equity

We support legislation that addresses the inequities of transportation per-pupil costs for school districts with higher than the state average per-pupil transportation costs. The transportation equity provided must be revenue neutral for districts at or below the state average transportation costs per pupil. Any additional revenue provided by the state shall be considered categorical for the school districts receiving additional funding, and it shall not be included as part of the calculation for increases in SSA. 

We also support equalizing the per-pupil funding school districts receive, so that all districts receive the same dollar-per-pupil amount. Any changes should NOT include a reduction in per-pupil allocations to districts.

Praxis

As teacher shortages in Iowa are becoming increasingly critical in hard-to-fill positions such as Industrial Technology, Foreign Languages, Math, Science, Special Education, etc., we support extending the probationary period by one year, increasing it from two to three years before eligibility for the standard license for teachers who do not have the Praxis passed upon hire. We also support granting of a provisional license to certified teachers seeking to relocate to Iowa, who have passed a Praxis exam in another state. If legislation were passed, it would be desirable for it to become effective immediately upon signing. 

IPERS

We support the IPERS program as a defined benefit program for Iowa Public Employees. At a time when fewer and fewer individuals are choosing education as a career, it is imperative that the state support benefit programs that encourage individuals to choose a career in education and enable school districts to effectively recruit teachers from both in and out of the state of Iowa. 

Mental Health

We support state policy that identifies options and provides resources for school districts to use to address the complex issues of student suicide and other serious mental health-related issues for students.