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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 25, 2018

Reynolds heads to ground zero of school funding inequity

Davenport superintendent still faces punishment for pressing the issue
By Molly Duffy, The Gazette | Mar 08, 2018

Gov. Kim Reynolds plans to sign legislation Thursday committing $14.1 million to begin addressing funding inequities among Iowa school districts in the hometown of the superintendent her own administration is faulting with pressing the issue.

Senate File 455 includes $2.8 million to address varying per-pupil funding levels among Iowa districts — some of which are allowed by existing law to spend as much as $175 more per pupil than others.

The bill signing will take place at a high school in the Davenport school district. There, the funding level is set at the state’s lowest level. In a stand against funding inequity, Superintendent Art Tate has jeopardized his superintendent license by openly spending beyond his district’s authorized amount.

While the new legislation is not directly related to the superintendent, Davenport school board member Julie DeSalvo said she is hopeful it will bode well for Tate, who is the subject of a state ethics investigation.

“Now we have something that says that (funding) formula is wrong,” said DeSalvo, who oversees the board’s legislative advocacy committee. “So how can you cite someone for trying to correct that?”

Tate is scheduled to go before the Board of Educational Examiners on June 26 and 27. He will be responding to an ethics complaint the Iowa Department of Education filed against him in December 2016.

SF 455 becoming law will not impact the complaint, Iowa Department of Education spokeswoman Staci Hupp said.

Reynolds’ appearance at Davenport’s Central High School also is unrelated to the complaint, the governor’s press secretary told The Gazette.

“The governor is in Eastern Iowa tomorrow and wanted to sign the bill with Sen. Roby Smith, who worked very hard on its passage,” spokeswoman Brenna Smith said in an email Wednesday.

The legislation will give $5 more to the per-pupil allocation of state aid to 161 school districts, shrinking the widest disparity between district spending authorities from $175 to $170.

It also allocates $11.2 million to address, for now, transportation spending inequities between rural and urban districts that face far different costs for busing.

The Davenport school district is “very, very honored” to host Reynolds for Thursday’s event, DeSalvo said. She and other board members will attend Reynolds’ 12:15 p.m. event at Central High.

Tate said he might go.

“I haven’t decided,” he said Wednesday morning. “I stay out of the politics.”

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