Senate File 455 passes to ensure quality education for all Iowa students

CAPITOL LETTERS

BY STATE SENATOR MARK SEGEBART

R-District 6

The weeks continue to go by quickly. Bills are starting to move through the chamber for floor debate and passage. SF 455 was debated Thursday. It passed with bipartisan support and mine. This bill helps to eliminate two of the most pronounced inequities in our public schools, district cost per pupil and transportation cost per pupil. Regardless of where students live, they should have equitable educational opportunities available. We believe a student’s zip code should not determine the quality of education available and this bill helps to level the playing field. The LSA Fiscal note says:

Senate File 455 has two divisions, both dealing with the school aid formula. The first division sets out a 10-year plan to bring the district cost per pupil to the same level for every school district across the State. The second division creates a transportation weighting that will roll in to the school aid formula between FY 2018 and FY 2027. Both divisions will be fully implemented in FY 2027.

The first division of the bill proposes a 10-year plan to adjust each district’s district cost per pupil (DCPP) until it reaches the maximum district cost per pupil. Currently, there is a maximum disparity of $175 per student between school districts. Under the bill, in FY 2018, the state cost per pupil will be adjusted by $5 per student, resulting in a state cost per pupil (SCPP) of $6,669 per student, and increasing the Property Tax Relief Payment (PTRP) to $84 per student. In FY 2019, the state supplemental aid rate is assumed to be 0.0%, and the PTRP is fixed at $84 per student; the state cost per pupil will be adjusted by an additional $10, bringing the SCPP to $6,679 per student. Every year after that, $20 is added to the SCPP until all districts are equalized in FY 2027.

The second division of the bill generates a transportation weighting to be included in a school district’s weighted enrollment using three factors:

• Transportation cost factor – Created out of a ratio of each school district’s transportation cost per student required to be transported under Iowa Code chapter 285, as compared to the statewide cost of transportation per student required to be transported under the same Iowa Code chapter (90% weighting).

• Enrollment factor – Created out of the ratio of a school district’s enrollment to the statewide enrollment (5% weighting).

• Route miles factor – Created out of the ratio of each school district’s route miles for the transportation of students required under Iowa Code chapter 285, as compared to the statewide route miles (5% weighting).

These three factors combine to create an additional number of student weightings to be included in the district’s weighted enrollment for the purpose of the school aid formula, generating state aid and property tax levying authority. It is very easy to get lost in all this information. The goal is to treat all schools equally across the board.

It is an honor to be your Senator. I currently serve as the chair on the Human Resources Committee, and serve on the Agriculture, Local Government and Veterans Affairs Committees. Additionally, I am the vice chair of the Health and Human Services Budget Subcommittee. Please feel free to contact me at 515-281-3371 or by email at mark.segebart@legis.iowa.gov.