On March 23, the Iowa legislature voted to give a 2.25 percent allowable growth increase to state education funding that will result in an additional $138 million for primary school programs for the 2016-2017 academic year.
Education funding and workforce training are top priorities for the Quad Cities Chamber, as ensuring skilled-workforce remains the top issue for the Quad Cities' economy and growth. While the debate on allowable growth may be done, a major concern for the region, the inequality of the funding formula for school districts, remains untouched. A number of districts in our area receive up to $175 less in funding per pupil. The total loss for districts in Scott County is $3.9 million, and it's approximately $6.2 million for school districts in the greater Quad Cities area.
The debate around allowable growth took up the better part of two legislative sessions, and saw strong sentiments voiced from both parties and many different constituencies. The Democratic Senate proposed a 4 percent growth, while many in the Republican House called for 2 percent. The issue has been surrounded by complications and fiscal difficulties. Many superintendents testified that 2 percent growth would not be enough and would result in teacher lay-offs. At the same time, the state saw a decrease in tax revenue this year, making additional spending more difficult. A number of the Quad Cities' Iowa state senators and representatives introduced legislation to buy time and address the funding inequality, but no legislation made it out of committee and the issue received little attention in Des Moines.
The Chamber will continue to work with our school districts, elected officials, and rally other communities to reform the per-pupil funding formula so that none of our communities is left behind. In the interim, we encourage lawmakers to allow Davenport School District and others to use cash reserves to maintain an even playing field. For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.