Washington Evening Journal
http://washington-ia.villagesoup.com/p/982560

Neighbors Growing Together | Jul 28, 2014

Senate, House education bill not ready yet

School boards uncertain about next year’s budgets
By Xiomara Levsen | Apr 01, 2013

RIVERSIDE — Iowa school districts are still waiting to see how much money they will receive from the education reform bill.
Highland Community School District is one of those districts that hasn’t proceeded with certifying its budget.
“We are still pushing for the four percent allowable growth,” said Mike Roberts, Highland Community School Board president. “Not knowing how much money we’ll get is a problem.”
Under Senate File 423 allowable growth is set at 4 percent but under house file 215 allowable growth is set at 2 percent, according to the Iowa School Board Association’s  (IASB) Web site.
Roberts said he couldn’t recall the education bill taking so long in the past but the board has taken that into consideration.
“We published our property levy at a higher rate than we’re at because we don’t know,” Roberts said. “I don’t think we’re alone in doing that.”
Roberts attended the legislative briefing at the Washington County Courthouse on March 16 with Mike Golden, school board member from Highland’s District Two, and Highland Community School District superintendent Chris Armstrong.
“We need to set budgets,” Golden said. “I guess the No. 1 thing is to get it done. Allowable growth is important.”
Armstrong echoed Golden’s concerns.
“This isn’t about schools being greedy,” Armstrong said. “It’s really about recovering and replacement of things that have been lost so I want to continue to advocate for 4 percent of allowable growth.”
Another reason why Highland is waiting on the education reform bill is because teachers’ salaries are also in there.
“A big piece in there is teachers’ salaries,” Golden said. “We need to know the guidelines for those. Anything you can do to allow us local control or flexibility on this would be great, because for a small district it would be very difficult to follow those.”
Highland will begin the negotiations on Wednesday, April 3, for teachers’ salaries.  

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