School Start Dates and Funding Still Undecided

Mar 16, 2015

The deadline for individual school districts to publish their budgets is April 5th, but in light of indecision at the statehouse, that's proving difficult.

That’s pushed one superintendent, Art Tate of Davenport Community Schools, to drastic measures: openly defying state law.

"I'm trying to improve the graduation rate and reduce the suspension rate and pull the achievement gap together, and I'm having to, every year, reduce. I just came to the point I said, 'I can't do that anymore. I won't do that anymore. It's immoral.'"

Tate has decided to spend more than the state formula allows in order to keep teachers employed and class sizes small.

And though Tate’s solution is unique, his situation isn’t. Districts across Iowa are in a state of uncertainty as they wait for the Democratically controlled Senate and Republican-led House to come to an agreement. Democrats want a 4% increase for the next two years, and Republicans want a 1.25% increase for the next year.

On this Legislative Day edition of River to River, hosts Emily Woodbury and Joyce Russell talk with Tate. Representative Ron Jorgensen, Chair of the House Education Committee, Senator Herman Quirmbach, Chair of the Senate Education Committee, and Lisa Bartusek, the executive director of the Iowa Association of School Boards, also join the program.