Senator Dix: The Importance of Local Elections

This week many Iowans cast a vote in their local school board election. Local elections have the biggest impact on your daily life, yet participation is lower than federal and statewide races. County, city, and school board leaders are responsible for the direct spending of your state and local tax dollars.

Iowa Senate Republicans understand policies are best executed at the local level. During the 2017 Legislative Session, Republicans provided more authority to school boards over spending and increased local responsibility for programs and workforce to ensure prosperous and stable communities in our state.

A significant portion of Iowa’s budget is invested in each level of education for the next generation. The legislature expanded Flexibility Accounts for schools to ensure money allocated to each district is invested annually in the performance and education of our kids. Collective bargaining reform eliminated costly government mandates, which inhibited creativity and achievement in our communities and schools.

Teachers, administrators, school board members, and residents all have a vested interest in the success of their local education system. It is vital that elected local leaders are effective in implementing these reforms. I hope Iowans made time to vote for school boards this week and will plan to vote in city council elections in November. These elections shape the direction of your schools and community, now more than ever.

Let’s make it happen!

Senator Bill Dix: Back to School

The turning of the calendar from August to September signals the end of summer and back to school for kids across the state. Iowa ranks in the top ten for education according to the 2017 US News Report review. It continues to lead the nation in high school graduation rates and dual enrollment. Enrollment in public schools is growing for the fifth year, after 14 years of it declining between 1997-1998 and 2011-2012. Education in Iowa is growing and producing quality students ready to make an impact in our communities and state.

During the 2017 Legislative Session, Senate Republicans made education a top priority. We made sure our schools received notice of State Supplemental Aid in a timely manner for planning and local budgets. We increased the 2017-2018 education funding by $40 Million, or $6,664 total per pupil funding. Further, while revenue estimates continued to decline, state funding increases for Iowa schools remained.

Prior to changes made this session, Schools operated under cookie cutter policies, often not reflecting their priorities or capabilities. By shifting more control and responsibilities of the budget to our school boards, it allows our local leaders to invest in quality programs for our children. Two bills passed the legislature in 2017 expanded funding flexibility for Iowa’s school districts.

House File 564 provides new allowable uses for specific funding received by school districts and requires the Board of Education to give deference to school boards when the Board of Education adopts rules. It lifts restrictions previously put on a series of funds for education, giving more local control to our schools, and letting them decide better ways to use their funding.

House File 565 allows for the creation of a Flexibility Account within the General Fund of each school district to collect unexpended and unobligated funds from a few different sources of categorical funding. This also allows the district to use those funds for purposes of the original source or other general fund purposes.

Education is part of Iowa’s success, which is moving this state forward. Senate Republicans will continue to support our schools and reduce the barriers imposed by Des Moines. I am proud to have been educated in Iowa and my kids are receiving that same quality education today.

Let’s make it happen!