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Thursday, July 9, 2015

An illogical argument for a Veto

Many posts and summaries of Governor Brandstad's Veto of $56 Million in one time money for Iowa schools have been published.  I'd like to say he surprised me with this veto, but most of us in education could see it coming.  My only statement on the issue is of two points that I find defy's logic and counters his stated goal of "eliminating uncertainty" in funding for Iowa Schools.

First of all, the legislature adjourned on June 5, a month before his veto. He has said that the legislature knew he would veto a bill that contained one time money.  He claims his veto was to ensure certainty of funding for Iowa school districts. Never mind that the legislature was 5 months late in passing a spending bill,  he waited another 27 days to veto it.  Leaving us with uncertainty into the current fiscal year.  If he was so sure he would veto it, why not do it June 8, when it hit the desk. Instead he left us to think it would be signed until the afternoon before a holiday weekend.


Secondly, the bill contained earmarks for where we are required to spend the money:



(1) Textbooks, as defined in section 301.1.
(2) Library books.
(3) Other instructional materials and equipment used directly by students.
(4) Transportation costs of the school district.
(5) Educational initiatives proven to increase student achievement in mathematics, literacy, or science in prekindergarten through grade twelve.

None of these are recurring expenses.  Given this list of allowed expenses I began to make plans for NFV.  Our allocation of that money was $134,720 (allocations are based on enrollment).  I had set some goals for this money:
  • 10 - 20% ($27,000) to increased discretionary spending (instructional supplies and equipment)
  • $50,000 to Teacher Quality spending;  i.e. curriculum development days.   (@$25,000 of salaries for each day)
  • $50,000 for professional development opportunities (Professional Learning Communities conference attedance) 
Teacher Quality days are paid as a per diem and not added to contracts.  PLC conferences are lauded as the best PD teachers have experienced by those who have already attended.  Any money left over can used to stockpile supplies or update more texts and technology.  Do things we desperately need. Powerful stuff.  Now it is lost to a veto.  

As an Iowa Superintendent, the concept of one time money is well understood.  For our Governor to think that I needed his help to avoid a fiscal cliff in my district is insulting.  These are legitimate uses for one time funds.  All he's done is withhold opportunities from our teachers and thus our students.  

NFV will carry on.  We are entering our first year of TLC implementation.  Our excitement for this work is high.  Local support for our schools is high.  The 2015-16 school year is right around the corner and I have faith that our staff will again provide a great year for NFV students.  They will just have to do it without the support of our Governor.

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