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More flexibility for our schools

Published: Thursday, April 20, 2017 10:18 a.m. CDT

There is less than a week left for our scheduled end of this legislative session. The 100th day of the legislative session was Tuesday and was the last day legislators (and our clerks) get paid for this session. While we are still working hard to be done by this day, we have much left to do on the budget for the next fiscal year.

The coming days will be busy as we finalize our budgets for the next year and other priority bills the legislature is still considering. As we go through this process, please feel free to email me with any questions or feedback you have on the bills we’re discussing. I am proud to be your representative at the Capitol and hope you will continue to contact me with your thoughts and opinions as we move towards adjournment.

Last week, the Senate debated House File 564 regarding school funding flexibility. The bill 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. The bill applies to funding related to professional development, at-risk/dropout prevention, preschool and student activities. It permits the purchase of textbooks and curriculum materials from the professional development fund, if they include professional development as part of the cost and allows for preschool funding to be used forage-specific playground equipment and translation services for preschool students.

The Senate also debated House File 565, another bill giving more flexibility to our schools. The bill 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. The account, as a part of the school district’s General Fund, would consist of unused funds from the Home School Assistance Program, preschool funds and professional development funds. Those funds could then be used for preschool programming, professional development purposes, Home School Assistance Program purposes, at-risk/dropout prevention programming,Talented and Gifted programming or other general fund purposes.

Both HF 564 and HF565 passed the Senate unanimously. These bills are great step forward to give our schools more control over the dollars we send them and how they are spent in our school districts.

Monitoring Devices in

Certain Public Places

Recently, Iowa Senate Republicans addressed a growing concern for Iowans regarding the protection of privacy in public spaces. Senate File 499 was introduced as a measure to remove and ban cameras and monitoring devices in certain public spaces where there is a clear expectation of privacy. 

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