Category Archives: school funding

One-stop Shopping for the 2017 ICCSD School Election

Chris Liebig is still on the ICCSD school board, so I’ve agreed to host a one-stop shopping election post again this year. Candidate filing won’t begin until Monday, July 10th and won’t end until Thursday, August 3rd at 5 pm. However, with the ballot issue language set, and with information presentations about it and advocacy to pass it already underway, it makes sense to get this post up and running sooner rather than later.

I will be using this post as a collection point for information about the 2017 ICCSD regular school election scheduled for Tuesday, September 12th. I will continue to add information here as it becomes available. If you see that I have missed something, as surely I will, please suggest additional links in the comments, by e-mail, or by Twitter.

THE BASICS

Three four-year school board seats are up for election, as well as one two-year school board seat, to fill the remainder of Director LaTasha DeLoach’s unexpired term which became open with her resignation effective July 14th. There will also be a general obligation bond (GO bond) ballot issue, intended to fund the remaining projects on the district’s ten-year facilities master plan (FMP), which was last updated in January of this year. There is also an effort underway to petition for a ballot question related to demolition of the Hoover Elementary School building (see new section added below for more information).

CANDIDATES

Candidate Statements and Profiles

Candidates for the four-year seats

  • JP Claussen: News coverage here; Gazette profile, P-C profile
  • Shawn Eyestone: News coverage here; Gazette profile, P-C profile; To Bond or Not To Bond, That is the Question
  • Janet Godwin: News coverage here; Gazette profile, P-C profile
  • Ruthina Malone: News coverage here; Gazette profile, P-C profile
  • Laura Westemeyer: News coverage here; Gazette profile, P-C profile

Candidates for the two-year seat

  • Charlie Eastham: News coverage here and here; Gazette profile, P-C profile

Campaign Websites, Social Media, and Campaign Reports

Campaign reports filed with the Iowa Ethics & Campaign Disclosure Board may include a short form attribution filing (DR-SFA) or a DR-1 Statement of Organization. Candidates who exceed $1,000 in donations, expenditures, or debt must file a DR-1 Statement of Organization (candidate’s committee) and a DR-2 Disclosure Summary Page, with attached reports, will be due five days prior to the election, and January 19, 2018. DR-2 attachments may include information about contributions (Schedule A), expenditures (Schedule B), debts (Schedule D), in-kind contributions (Schedule E), loans (Schedule F), or consultants (Schedule G).

Candidates for the four-year seats

Candidates for the two-year seat

  • Charlie Eastham:

Candidate Questionnaires

Debates and Candidate Forums

  • Political Party Live! Roundtable: One Community. One Bond, hosted by The Political Party, in partnership with Mission Iowa City; Thursday, July 27th from 6 pm to 8 pm at Mosley’s, 525 S. Gilbert St., Iowa City.
  • Community Rocks! Rally for the School Board Vote,  hosted by Kelly Garrett and Rachel Korach Howell and sponsored in part by Fourth Room Theatre; Saturday, August 5th from 5 pm to 9 pm at 901 Melrose Ave, Iowa City.

GO BOND BALLOT ISSUE

Shall the Board of Directors of the Iowa City Community School District in the County of Johnson, State of Iowa, be authorized to contract indebtedness and issue General Obligation Bonds in an amount not to exceed $191,525,000 to provide funds to address health, safety, and accessibility issues in all school buildings, including air conditioning all school buildings, reducing the use of  temporary classroom structures in the District, addressing classroom, lunchroom, and gymnasium overcrowding, and dedicating rooms to art, music, prekindergarten, and science by constructing, furnishing and equipping a new building, constructing additions to and/or remodeling, repairing, and improving the school buildings remaining in the District’s Facilities Master Plan, as follows:  Mann and Lincoln renovations, Liberty High athletic facilities construction and site improvements, new elementary school construction in North Liberty and site improvements, West High renovation, South East and North Central Junior High additions, Shimek renovation, City High addition and upgrades, Wood addition, Wickham upgrades, Garner and Northwest additions, Liberty High addition, Horn renovation, Kirkwood addition, Borlaug, Alexander, and Lemme additions, and Tate High addition and upgrades?

Committees

Ballot Issue PACs have different reporting deadlines than school board campaign committees. DR-2 Disclosure Summary Page, with attached reports, will be due May 19, July 19, five days prior to the election, October 19, and January 19, 2018. DR-2 attachments may include information about contributions (Schedule A), expenditures (Schedule B), debts (Schedule D), in-kind contributions (Schedule E), loans (Schedule F), or consultants (Schedule G).

Other Links

POTENTIAL HOOVER ELEMENTARY BALLOT QUESTION

Save Hoover Elementary is collecting signatures to petition to have the following language included on the ballot for the September 12th school election:

Shall the Iowa City Community School District in the County of Johnson, State of Iowa, demolish the building known as Hoover Elementary School, located at 2200 East Court Street in Iowa City, after the completion of the 2018-19 school year, with the proceeds of any resulting salvage to be applied as specified in Iowa Code section 297.22(b)?

Other Links

NEWS COVERAGE

Articles and posts substantively discussing the school board election. See Candidate Statements and Profiles for articles about individual candidates announcing campaigns, candidate profiles, and candidate statements.

COMMENTARY

Collective Bargaining

It’s been a doozy of a week for education, with Betsy DeVos confirmed as Secretary of Education on Tuesday and Governor Branstad signing SF 166, setting SSA at 1.11% (with only $40 million or $73 per student of new money), on Wednesday, and now moving on to bills to change collective bargaining for public employees in Iowa (Chapter 20).

Based on my Twitter feed, the collective bargaining bills are the hot topic at legislative forums this weekend (see Twitter #saveiaworkers, #ialegis, #iaedfuture). This tweet, apparently relaying a comment made by Rep. Rogers at one of today’s forums, caught my attention.

Comments like this are hard for the audience to verify if the alleged supporters aren’t speaking publicly, but, for what it is worth, we can check lobbyist registration information on the bills.

Chapter 20 bills are HSB84, now numbered as HF291, and SF213.

The Iowa Association of School Boards is registered as undecided on HSB84, HF291, and SF213 (click these links to see all lobbyist registrations on each bill). Despite being registered on 74 other bills, School Administrators of Iowa has not registered a position on any of these three bills. The Urban Education Network of Iowa and the Rural School Advocates of Iowa are also not registered on any of the Chapter 20 bills as of today.

Added: Sweeping changes predicted for public schools if collective bargaining bill passes (Press-Citizen)

Dissent Doesn’t Ruin Everything

Earlier this week, the ICCSD school board approved moving ahead with putting an approximately $190 million bond in front of voters, likely in September. (See coverage at the Press-Citizen and The Gazette.)

Concerns have been expressed about a lack of a unanimous board vote, suggesting that the bond has already been undermined by the two dissenting board directors. It hasn’t.

This bond is going to succeed or fail based on the ability of its proponents to persuade at least 60% of the voters to pass the bond.

It is nice to think that Directors Hemingway and Liebig could have erased community concerns–and guaranteed passage of the bond–simply by changing their votes. But it doesn’t work that way.* Giving voice to dissenting opinions and concerns doesn’t create dissension and concerns within the community, but it is essential for ensuring vigorous public debate in matters of interest to the public.

The school board vote earlier this week wasn’t the end of debate on the bond and the Facilities Master Plan. That debate will continue through election day and beyond, as the school board continues to make decisions about altering and carrying out the FMP.

The fact that some people (continue to hold and) express opinions contrary to our own is super annoying. But expressions of dissent have also been an ongoing invitation for proponents of the FMP/bond to work for a defensible FMP process, a defensible FMP, a defensible bond proposal, and to make the case for why voters should support it all with a vote in favor of the bond. We’ll see how effectively it was all done on election night.

*It doesn’t work that way unless Directors Hemingway and Liebig are the only members of the community with concerns. In which case, don’t worry! They each only have one vote to cast in the bond election and can’t, alone, cause the bond to fail.

Summer Reading Programs Survey

The DE issued a press release, for the Iowa Reading Research Center commissioned survey of Iowa summer reading programs, entitled Survey shows need for funding for summer reading programs.

Just kidding. Despite survey findings that funding is the primary barrier for the majority of school districts not yet offering summer reading programs and the current school funding debates, the DE instead chose to emphasize a need for statewide standards or control with this title: Survey shows need for consistency in summer reading programs.

The sixty-nine page report has quite a lot of information in it (though it is light on recommendations), but I think it is unfortunate the public library summer reading programs have been lumped together with summer school programs and other reading skills oriented community programs in this survey. Perhaps it adds to the inconsistency among programs surveyed: public library reading programs are focused on supporting a love of reading rather than teaching or maintaining academic skills, are less likely to offer formal assessment of reading skills, are unlikely to set academic goals, are unlikely to require attendance, and are not staffed with licensed teachers. But I hope it isn’t a sign that the DE and/or the IRRC are going to develop standards for public library summer reading programs. Encouraging kids to find reading for pleasure a worthwhile activity is a valuable endeavor and librarians, though not licensed teachers, are trained professionals well suited to helping kids find books they will like–or even love–reading.

Smarter Balanced Assessments 33

Technology challenges of online statewide assessments.

Over the last few years, I have linked to articles about technology challenges large and small that other states have encountered while trying to administer statewide online assessments (see, for example, here, here, or here). The stories keep coming, some SBAC related and some not, and the following links may include previously blogged articles as well as more recent articles.

Smarter Balanced

Smarter Balanced assessments not running well on iPads (Maine).

Three States to Decline Use of Adaptive Feature of Smarter Balanced Assessments (EdWeek). Smarter Balanced assessments millions over budget and adaptive-testing software not working properly (Wisconsin, not using AIR software).

Familiarity with online testing helps, but even so, technical problems happen during field testing (Ed Week reporting on multiple states). Quote from a South Dakota principal, “Starting in kindergarten, we need to do a lot more work just navigating the computer.”

Other Statewide Online Assessments or Related School Technology Issues

Denial of service attacks disrupt statewide online testing (Kansas).

We’re Not Ready for Online Tests, Most District Ed-Tech Leaders Say (EdWeek).

Vendor software incompatible with school browsers (Minnesota).

Technical issues with log ins and connection interruptions, disrupting school instruction and testing schedules (Florida). Software updates blamed for testing disruptions (Florida). Peter Greene at Curmudgacation: FL Testing: Crash and Burn.

School districts debate move to statewide online testing (Colorado).

After Ed-Tech Meltdown, a District Rebounds (EdWeek).

Idaho Schools Face Potential Tech Crisis Over Broadband Issue (EdWeek), but it is resolved for now (Center for Digital Education).

Legislative Update 1/28

The House debated HF 80 (successor to HSB 58) setting percent growth of SSA at 1.25, and HF 81 (successor to HSB 57) setting the categorical state of percent growth 10 1.25 last night. After several hours of debate HF 80 as amended and HF 81 each passed on a vote of 56-42.

Representative Jorgensen opened the debate on HF 80 by acknowledging that our supplemental state aid money went, in part, to fund teacher leadership compensation programs instead:

I’ve heard a number of times, if we didn’t spend money on the education reform we would have more money for SSA. If we didn’t do the property tax reform we would have more money for SSA. That is true. But if you are going to succeed in any venture you must be willing to invest strategically into the future. If something is not working you must change it; if the competition is changing you must also change. Refusing to change will assure only one thing. Failure. Continuing to prioritize funding into a system that has seen declining enrollments and stagnant achievement results will result in future failure. That is why our investment with Education Reform AND property tax reform is so important. If we don’t spur economic development through improving our education system and lowering our tax rates we will only continue to see enrollment declines and stagnant achievement results. But that takes money and that–and for the short term creates hurt and sacrifice in other areas. But the future benefit is worth it.

[Note: the DE reports that statewide public school enrollment is up for the third year in a row, and expected to keep going up (page vii and page 3 of the 2014 Condition of Education Report).]

An amendment to HF 80, H-1002, was filed by Ruff (D-Clayton) and forty-one co-sponsors to set SSA for FY 2016 at six percent. It failed on a vote of 43-56. An amendment to HF 81, H-1003, was filed by Ruff (D-Clayton) and forty co-sponsors to set the categorical state of percent growth to six. It failed on a vote of 42-56.

LSA on SSA

The Legislative Services Agency has published a 295 page analysis of the Governor’s budget recommendations. Here are a few tables from the analysis relevant to school funding:

School aid estimates for FY2016, assuming 0.0%, 2.0%, or 4.0% (page 52):

LSA Table 1

Note Program Funding, line 9 labeled “Teacher Leadership Supplement.” I believe that this is the categorical funding source that will fund teacher leadership programs approved by the DE after the first year is funded by a grant.

School aid estimates for FY2017 assuming 6.0%, 4.0%, 2.0%, or 0.0% for FY2017 and assuming the same percentages for FY 2016 (page 53):

LSA Table 2

Major changes in the proposed DE budget (page 123):

LSA Table 3