Don’t shortchange our students

Your advocacy is needed. The impact of the governor’s school funding proposal is far below what is necessary to finance Iowa’s schools. The governor is proposing to increase per pupil spending by 1.25 percent or $80 per student for the 2015-16 school year and a 2.45 percent increase or $158 per pupil for the 2016-17 school year. On average Iowa schools’ general fund budgets increase by 3-3.5 percent a year.

The state of Iowa must end the current trend of under funding our schools. Over the last 14 years school funding has been reduced by 17 percent due to across the board cuts, eliminated funding for technology, and reduced dropout prevention funds. Currently the state of Iowa’s per pupil spending ranks 35th in the nation spending $1,612 less per pupil than the rest of the nation. This is not acceptable. How will Iowa’s schools be able to provide a world class education with third-world funding?

The potential negative impact from under funding will force schools to make deeper cuts in staff and programs. Areas that are likely to get cut first are counseling, student support programs, and the fine arts programs. By eliminating counselors, PBIS and other programs that help student’s social and emotional growth, we are likely to see a rise in:

Bullying behaviors

Student absenteeism

Dropout rates

Class sizes

I thought the governor wanted to reduce bullying in schools? His new funding plan is likely to do the opposite by forcing schools to decrease staff sizes and people trained to help students with these tendencies.

Education accounts for 55 percent of the states budget but schools are handcuffed in how they can spend the money. Schools do not have the authority to spend it in ways that will most effectively impact our children. The $50 million to support the Teacher Leadership and Compensation (TLC) Plan is commendable but our children are more likely to benefit more from this money being spent elsewhere. I ask our elected officials what is more important; spending money for TLC, which is an organizational systems plan that will not have the same direct impact on students? Or providing the funding that will allow schools to maintain programs and personnel that will directly support our student’s social, emotional, and educational needs? Won’t the students benefit more by having smaller class sizes, more teachers, more classroom associates, not having to eliminate valuable educational programs, keeping up with the rapid changes in technology, and being able to provide the proper educational materials? Please take the time to contact the Governor and our legislators and tell them to properly funds Iowa’s schools (6 PERCENT increase in per pupil funding) because our children deserve better!

Bob Cue is superintendent for the North Tama County Community School District.