DES MOINES, Iowa (KWWL) -- Iowa Senators voted 31-18 Wednesday to approve a 2.4% increase in state funding for Iowa's more than 300 K-12 public school districts.
The increase, which totals more than $36 million, now heads to Governor Kim Reynolds' desk for her expected signature. The current $3.3 billion general-fund appropriation to fund elementary and secondary schools provides $7,048 per student in state supplemental aid to cover yearly instruction costs. The 2.4% increase, along with some additional funding approved, would increase the per-pupil funding to about $7,230 next fiscal year.
Democrats say the funding increase isn't enough, arguing unsuccessfully for a boost as large as 3.85%. They also argued the state could afford to spend more given a $305 million budget surplus and more than $700 million in cash and emergency "rainy day" reserves.
Democrats say more funding is needed because they expect the large drop in enrollment this past school year to be temporary. Iowa saw a decline of approximately 5,935 students this school year, according to the Iowa Department of Education. Districts saw a combined 1.21% decline in certified enrollment, which the state uses to determine each district's funding. It was the first drop in certified enrollment in 10 years, and two-thirds of Iowa's public school districts lost students. Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Davenport saw the largest drops.
Under the bill, more than 130 Iowa school districts will receive less state funding than they did this year. Those districts will have to rely on a "budget guarantee" that supplements lower state aid with increased local property taxes in those districts.