Iowa is one step closer to education reform. House lawmakers pass a scaled-back version of Governor Branstad's proposal. Local school leaders are optimistic about it, but say tweaks could be made to better improve the state's schools.
What passed through the house is a watered down version of Branstad's plan for reform. Instead of mandating the minimum teacher salary go from $28,000 a year to $35,000, legislators scaled that back to $32-thousand for districts that participate in the plan.
"Great teaching is where the bread and butter is," said Dr. Jim Spelhaug, Superintendent of Pleasant Valley Schools.
He says that increases wouldn't impact the Pleasant Valley school district. Even for those where it would, under the house bill districts could opt-out of the plan. So some could be weighing the costs versus benefits.
"I'm not sure it's going to matter much. This is money available to do good work. I think schools are going to be on board," said Spelhaug.
The plan is a two percent increase to general school funding in the next two school years. Currently, Iowa gives its schools about six thousand dollars for every student. Add another $120 for each pupil at PV for example, and that's another nearly half million dollars.
Though it is less than the four percent approved by the Senate last week. But Spelhaug's main concern with the reform plan is that it's missing a rigorous state-wide assessment, as opposed to leaving districts on their own. "We're concerned some of that stuff is sitting on the sidelines and if it does we won't get where we need to be on reform."
The total cost of the House bill is $157 million. That plan will now go to the Senate which is still reviewing Branstad's proposals.