SOUTHWEST IOWA – State legislators approved a 2.4 percent increase in per-pupil state funding for schools in 2022, but despite the increase,l several area school districts will have to raise property taxes.
The state’s budget guarantee means schools are guaranteed to receive 101 percent of state funding they received the previous school year. Ideally that money would come from increased state aid — which is distributed on a per-pupil basis — as the result of a growing enrollment. But if a district’s enrollment declines, it receives less state aid and must find the funding elsewhere to reach the guarantee level — that money is made up through increased property taxes.
Two area schools, Atlantic and Griswold, will not levy for the budget guarantee next year, but others including CAM, Exira-EHK, Audubon and Nodaway Valley will.
Paul Croghan, who is a shared superintendent with CAM and Nodaway Valley, said both of his districts will have to levy taxes.
“Both of my districts are on the budget guarantee, which means we will be short either $30,000 to $40,000 respectively in each district,” Croghan said. “The higher the (state spending), the better the chance to get off that budget guarantee.”
Audubon Superintendent Eric Trager said school officials there would have to levy $36,966, and EEHK Superintendent Trevor Miller said the district would have to levy $73,506.
State Republicans and Democrats had differing views on the funding, with Democrats saying the increase should be more to keep schools from being underfunded.
Retired teacher and Democratic Senator Cindy Winckler told the Des Moines Register, “I believe we should provide the resources for every child that will be in the classroom next year, and this bill short changes our students.”
However, Republicans said the bill kept schools on a good path toward the future.
“This is a solid funding bill that sets our schools on a predictable, reliable, fundable path into the future,” Republican Senator Amy Sinclair told the Des Moines Register.