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A busy first few weeks, focus on school funding

February 8, 2013
Steve Sodders - Iowa State Senator , Traer Star-Clipper

We are past the first few weeks of the 2013 session. I want to thank all who have called or e-mailed me with their well wishes.

It's been a busy time. In addition to Monday through Thursday at the Statehouse in Des Moines, I'm trying to figure out my Sheriff Office schedule, my listening post schedule and my home life schedule. I've also been appointed to the Economic Development Authority Board, the Pseudoephedrine Advisory Council and the Legislative Council. I want to thank Carrie and the kids for making it all easier for me to do.

Pocket has played a few games at the varsity level in basketball and loves it. West Marshall is coming to the end of the season and will be playing in districts to go to state. Good luck, girls!

Adam is busy thinking about and visiting colleges around the state. He had a great time at Upper Iowa University on his visit there. Next up are UNI and Iowa State visits.

On the topic of education, a new survey of Iowa school superintendents indicates that lawmakers should take quick action to approve an overdue increase in basic aid for schools.

Local education leaders say they'll soon be forced to assume there will be no increase in funding for local students in the coming school year. Eighty-seven percent of respondents said that aid to local schools must be set by March 1 or earlier to avoid teacher layoffs, crowded classes and harm to student achievement.

If there is no boost to school funding, superintendents said their schools would see larger class sizes (72 percent), delays in upgrading materials (68 percent), layoffs of teachers (57 percent), and layoffs of classroom assistants (51 percent).

Superintendents almost unanimously (99 percent) believe that education dollars would be used more effectively if the state returned to setting basic aid to education a year and a half in advance. Iowa law requires this advance budgeting, but Governor Branstad and the Republican House refused to follow the law last year.

If our goal is world-class schools, we can't shortchange them and expect dramatic improvements. Laying off teachers, crowding more students into classrooms, and using old technology and materials is not the route to strong student achievement, especially when Iowa's budget reserves have never been larger.

To review the complete results of the Iowa school superintendents' survey, go to



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