In line with a request from the Iowa Association of School Boards, the Pella School Board this past week approved a list of educational issues it would like to see addressed during coming year’s state legislative session. Pella Schools Superintendent Mark Wittmer says one of this year’s legislative priorities is the maintenance of the integrity of the state-wide one-cent sales tax for school infrastructure improvements, also known as SILO.
“There are groups that would love to be able to tap into that source of revenue. It’s really important to schools, simply because many schools like us have already bonded against that penny in an attempt to keep property taxes down,” said Wittmer. “If we did not have access to that, then there’s a chance we’d have to move the expenditures from the bonds onto the property tax payer – which we’re certainly trying to avoid.”
Wittmer says the board would also like to see efforts to balance how much state funding each district receives per student.
“There are schools who receive more dollars per kid to spend on education than we do; and we think that there’s certainly a sense of inequity there,” says Wittmer. “That was a political decision that was made many years ago, in order to get more equalization passed, but it’s never been addressed and it’s never been fixed. We think that it’s time for that to get fixed, so that no district has the opportunity to generate more dollars per student than any other district.”
Another legislative priority identified by the Pella School Board is the avoidance of labor legislation that would reduce district’s control over their budgets. Later this fall, the board will elect a delegate to further represent the district’s priorities at the Iowa Association of School Boards Convention.