Legislative Advocacy Committee
On August 10th, 2015 the Davenport School Board Approved the following resolution:
RESOLUTION OF THE DAVENPORT COMMUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT BOARD OF EDUCATION AFFIRMING FUNDING EQUALITY THROUGH THE IOWA EDUCATION FOUNDATION FORMULA
WHEREAS the Iowa Legislature and Governor annually set the state cost per pupil which determines the amount of revenue available to school districts to invest in the education of Iowa’s students,
WHEREAS 172 of Iowa’s school districts have been historically granted spending authority in addition to the state cost per pupil, as much as $175 per student, yet 165 Iowa schools districts are prohibited from accessing that spending authority and effectively capped at the state cost per pupil,
WHEREAS local property taxes in the 172 districts with the additional spending authority are the sole source of funding for those additional resources,
WHEREAS historical spending patterns of school districts over four decades ago are the basis for this unequal revenue per student and do not reflect student or district needs today,
WHEREAS the per pupil inequality respects no borders, creating capacity inequities in districts which neighbor each other, contributing to open enrollment challenges for districts with lower capacity and challenging student needs,
WHEREAS the state has a vested interest in promoting and supporting equality and fairness in its school funding formula,
WHEREAS all school districts have faced recent years of record low funding increases, so any state fix to this problem must attend to the needs of all districts without further disadvantaging the 172 districts that have depended on this additional authority,
WHEREAS the cost to the state of fixing this per pupil inequality is close to $80 million and the Legislative Services Agency estimated FY 2015 revenues exceeded the Revenue Estimating Conference estimate by more than $80 million,
WHEREAS another major inequity in school funding is school transportation costs, with school transportation mandated by the state, but paid out of the school foundation formula without consideration for the number of students transported, the number of route miles traveled, or the difficulty of terrain based on geography of school districts,
WHEREAS the cost of school transportation per student enrolled varies from a low of $41 per enrolled student to a high of $1,037 per enrolled student, according to the DE’s 2014 Annual Transportation Report,
WHEREAS the estimated cost to the state of creating a transportation supplement to attain equity is estimated at close to $25 million,
WHEREAS having replenished cash reserves since the great recession and corresponding across-the-board cuts in the late 2000s, local school districts have cash balances statewide totaling over $680 million,
WHEREAS local schools boards are best able to balance the needs of local taxpayers, their communities and students,
BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED: The Iowa State Legislature should strive to further understand and propose solutions beginning in FY 2016 to the per pupil inequality in the school funding formula and school transportation expenditure inequities, which ultimately must be resolved with state funding.
If the state amount of funds needed to attain equality exceeds the amount legislators are willing to appropriate in one year, the funds to gain equality could be phased in over several years,
Local school boards should have the authority to use cash reserves to fund these per pupil inequalities, until the state is capable of appropriating sufficient funds to solve the problem statewide.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, we direct our school board secretary to send of copy of this resolution to our legislators, Quad City Chamber of Commerce, Davenport Mayor and City Council and our local media to communicate our strong urgency that these inequalities be addressed without further delay.
Approved with all school board members voting in favor on August 10th, 2015
- Adequate public school fundings
- Quality classroom experiences
Effecitive coalition-building and communication with state and federal legislators will empower all levels of government to elevate student success.
In 2004 the Davenport Community School Board approved the creation of the Legislative Advocacy Committee as a standing committee of the board. The board realized that in order to be effective advocates for public school education it was necessary to engage the larger community in advocacy efforts.
Our earliest efforts revolved around getting students involved in advocacy. We began by sponsoring school bus trips to Des-Moines during the legislative session to allow our students to engage local legislators in the context of the place where our state laws are created. We have done this annually (with the exception of a weather cancellation in 2008).
Our committee recognizes the important role we have in advocating for Davenport Community Students, however; we believe advocacy is most effective with state legislators when we are able to frame our message around all Iowa public school students.
Our purpose is threefold:
- Constituency Development: This gets back to the original reason for creation of the committee. The board realized that while they are elected to assure that the needs of our public school students is addressed, our message to local legislators were very predictable and had limited impact. Our primary goal therefore has been to engage other constituencies within our community and to help them find their voice for advocacy. We continually focus our efforts on students, however; we have also worked with early education advocates and teachers. Early education members continue to serve an effective advocacy role outside the Legislative Advocacy Committee.A huge aspect of constituency development is simply the building of relationships. Not only is the board’s relationship with the community enhanced but also the open engagement with state legislators has opened up communication channels that allow for the free flow of ideas and questions.
- Public Education: In order for constituent members to have an effective role in advocacy they need to be able to understand legislation and the process by which bills become law. The committee holds various functions during the year such as legislator socials, candidate forums, and Scott County school board forums. We are currently planning a School Finance Course for legislators and interested public.
- Legislation: The board looks to the committee for guidance on specific legislation being considered. Additionally the committee offers resolutions and positions they believe the board should consider. The committee works closely with the Superintendent on issues of specific legislation to assure that the district is speaking with a unified voice.
Members for the 2016-17 School Year
- Richard Clewell (Chair)
- Ralph Johanson
- Julie DeSalvo
- Rachael Steiner
- Guy Heller
- Dawn Saul
- Ellen Reilly
- Mike Ross
- John Border
- Daniel Flaherty
- Write to a Legislator
- Legislative Tool Kit (Everything you need to know about advocacy)
- Davenport Community School District home page
- Legislative Talking Points Funding Equity
- Want to contact the Governor about a legislative issue: http://www.governor.iowa.gov/contact
- My Iowa Schools: www.myiowaschools.org
- Iowa Association of School Boards: http://www.ia-sb.org
- Local Legislators: http://www.scottcountyiowa.com/auditor/elected_officials.php?code=IA
- Contact our Board Secretary\Treasurer for any questions you might have. Ms. Mary Correthers, 563.336.5087 or firstname.lastname@example.org.