Governor says she supports transportation ‘equalization’
Iowa’s governor had some relatively good news for Iowa schools — especially rural districts — during a stop in Chickasaw County last week.
Republican Kim Reynolds said she believes that when the 2018 Legislature heads home later this spring, it will have given an increase — albeit a small one — to state supplemental aid.
Reynolds said she proposed a 1.5 percent increase to state supplemental aid in her budget but believes the Legislature will settle around 1 percent.
But she also said that she is working hard to get “transportation equalization” enacted this year.
“If we do that, and I believe we have a good chance at that,” she said, “it’s going to be more like the 1.5 percent increase I originally proposed. … What I do know is we have to do something to help districts that are spending so much on transportation.”
According to the Iowa Department of Education, school districts spend an average of $314 per student on transportation costs each year. But more rural districts with larger geographical areas to cover often spend much more.
Nashua-Plainfield, for example, spends about $400 per student, $86 higher than the state average.
New Hampton spends about $443 per student, Sumner-Fredericksburg spends $389 per student, while Turkey Valley spends more than $550 per student.
“That, in my opinion, is not fair to those school districts,” she said, “and as a state, we need some kind of path to equalization.
“If a school is spending $200 more dollars per child to transport them, that’s taking money from the classroom and we’re going to try and fix that.”