Our IACS January 2019 Newsletter is out! There are a few events to pencil in on your calendar and we have an overview on the legislature and our areas of focus for the year!
Although it is a tough budget year for the State of Iowa and many interest groups are asking for increased resources, we have heard time and again this year that “K-12 education will be held harmless.” We laid significant groundwork for tax credit and education savings account legislation moving forward.
Despite this, funding of transportation services for nonpublic school students is facing a cut in SSB 1198. The budget bill is being considered by the Iowa legislature this week. The funding was cut $278,000 in this current fiscal year. Next year’s budget continues cutting nonpublic school transportation funding for a total cut of $363,000. This is unacceptable.
Please use our action alert to contact your Representative and Senator today and ask them to support nonpublic schools by truly “holding K-12 harmless.”
Legislators are now in the middle of debating budget bills in order to go home for the year. Iowa’s Christian schools benefit from a number of state programs and initiatives that benefit Iowa’s students that attend our schools. Line items in the state budget that impact Christian schools:
- Textbooks/technology funding
- Transportation services
- School Tuition Organization (STO) tax credits providing scholarship opportunities for low-income families
- Area Education Agency services
- Tuition tax credit (25 percent of the first $1,000 spent on education) for public and private school parents
We understand that the state budget is tighter than usual this year. The House and Senate have agreed to cut the Governor’s proposed increase of $90,000 in nonpublic textbook funding and there seems to be no forward movement on ESA, STO, or transportation this week as they look to wrap up the session.
Would you be willing to email your legislators today and ask them to seize this final opportunity of the year to pass meaningful legislation that would positively impact students in every educational setting? The Iowa Association of Christian Schools is supporting efforts to:
- Repeal the sunset provision in the Independent Accreditation, ensuring Iowa’s private schools can remain accountable to taxpayers in a way that meets their unique needs and pushes them to higher levels of academic excellence.
- Restore funding of textbooks and technology for nonpublic school students that was cut back several years ago and hasn’t been restored.
- Increase funding for transportation services for nonpublic school students. Currently the state limits this funding to about 80 percent of claims. The original purpose of the funding was to make sure students get to school safely.
Christian school parents and their children save the state millions of dollars as they cover most of the cost of private school education themselves and still contribute to the public school funding through local property, income, and sales tax.
We believe parents have the right to choose the type of education that best fits their child’s needs regardless of their income or address. Please ask your legislators to create the conditions necessary to exercise this right.
Please send a message to your legislator on these issues. We encourage you to edit the message and put it in your own words. Thanks for being willing to get involved!
An Education Savings Account (ESA) pilot program (HF 2284) has passed subcommittee and is now eligible for debate in the House Appropriations Committee.
The bill, as written, creates a 190-seat pilot program in the Waterloo and Sioux Center school districts. The idea is that over a year or two, we’d be able to iron out the details and see that school choice benefits the kids involved and the community as a whole.
The intent of the bill is to include students that are not currently in private schools and would include an educational savings grant equal to the average state aid per pupil for each participant. Although we’d prefer a statewide program out of the gate, we believe this bill provides a great opportunity to demonstrate the benefits of this type of school choice.
Please email your Representative today. Our system makes it easy and it only takes a few minutes to make a big impact. Thank you!
The “ESEA” debate heats up today as the U.S. House begins voting on its version of the long-overdue reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The House and Senate are working on competing versions of the bills and we expect this to be the beginning of a relatively long process.
Since the first versions of the ESEA over fifty years ago until 2001, services provided by the law were shared equitably regardless of where the child attended school. After 2001’s No Child Left Behind (NCLB), this equitable sharing of services for the benefit of children has gradually been eroded to the point where private school students are no longer receiving the same services at the same level as their public school counterparts.
H.R. 5 (the “Student Success Act”) is the House of Representatives’ version and takes the first steps in restoring equity in this area. Specifically, section 120 of H.R. 5 beings to address many of our concerns. According to the the Congressional website it includes the following provisions:
(Sec. 120) Requires states to designate an ombudsman to ensure that private school children receive educational services and benefits that are equitable to those received by public school children under subpart 1.
Directs states, rather than LEAs, to provide or arrange for the provision of such services and benefits to private schools in certain circumstances.
This is a good first step.
There are many with concerns about H.R. 5 on any number of issues. The ongoing debate over standards, parental rights and involvement, as well as the role of state and federal government in education are important debates.
The Iowa Association of Christian Schools asks that you contact your Senator and Representative and ask them to commit to supporting any provisions in a new ESEA bill that respect a parent’s choice to send their child to a nonpublic school and ensure that title funding equitably benefits children regardless of the school setting.
There will always be disagreements on the best way forward in education but we are hopeful that everyone can get behind serving these kids equitably as we have done for many decades prior to the NCLB. As long as title funding is available, government at all levels should work in partnership with parents and educators to provide the best possible education for that child without favoritism.