Schools Warn: Class Sizes Will Rise if State Investment Falls Short Again Next Year
¬Iowa Legislature News Release
January 19, 2016
For more information, contact:
Senator Herman Quirmbach: (515) 291-8984
Representative Patti Ruff: (515) 281-3221
DES MOINES – According to a new survey, over 90% of school administrators said another year of stagnant state funding would lead to higher class sizes in their own school.
“Iowa’s local educators have told us, again, how underfunding local schools is limiting the opportunities of our state’s next generation. Underfunding education also undermines our state’s economic future, according to Iowa business leaders frustrated by a shortage of skilled workers,” said Senator Herman Quirmbach of Ames, chair of the Senate Education Committee. “I urge the House Republican majority to stand by the votes they cast last year for the education increase vetoed by Governor Branstad. Anyone can promise to support high quality schools. What Iowa needs right now are Republican legislators who join with Democrats and vote to keep those promises.”
The survey was completed by superintendents, principals, and other school administrators to gather information about the consequences of short changing public schools next year as well as determine the impact of the Governor’s veto last summer. In addition to raising class size, school leaders said underfunding schools next year would force them to delay purchases for books or classroom materials (77%); leave positions unfilled (71%); delay new technology (56%); and cut back literacy programs (43%).
“Iowa kids won’t get a world class education if schools have to raise class size, use old technology, and cut back literacy programs because of underfunding by the state,” said Rep. Patti Ruff of McGregor, Ranking Member of the House Education Committee. “It’s time for Governor Branstad and Republican leaders to listen to our school leaders and work with us to make public schools the top priority of the Legislature again.”
The survey also found 88% of the school leaders recommended the state provide at least a 4% increase in basic state funding next year.
FULL SURVEY RESULTS WITH COMMENTS FROM SCHOOL LEADERS: http://iowahouse.org/pdf/1-16schoolleader-survey-webversion.pdf
2016 Iowa School Administrator Survey Results
257 Responses from Iowa School Administrators
What impact did the Governor’s $56 million school funding veto last summer have in your school?
(Please check all that apply)
Increased class size 61% 157
Left positions unfilled 42% 109
Delayed new technology purchases 41% 107
Other 43% 113
Cut back literacy programs 29% 77
Cut back offerings in music, art, or P.E. 13% 34
Reduced extra-curricular programs 10% 26
What level of supplemental state aid should the Legislature set for 2016-2017?
8% or above 5
6% 31 88% say 4% or above
If schools receive stagnant state funding again next year, is it likely that class sizes will increase in your school building?
When thinking about the next school year, what is the likely result at your school if the legislature underfunds public schools again next year? (Check all that apply)
Raise class size 84% 216
Delay purchases for books or classroom materials 77% 200
Leave positions unfilled 71% 184
Delayed new technology purchases 56% 145
Cut back literacy programs 43% 113
Other 33% 85
Cut back offerings in music, art, or P.E. 31% 81
Comments from Iowa School Leaders – 2016 Survey
Mike Dailey, Principal
Junior High, Southeast Polk
Our students get caught up in the numbers game when we add more students but no more aid is provided. That impacts us more than a district who is stagnant or shrinking. We have more students but no funds to work with for them.
Justin M. Gross, Nevada High School Principal
Nevada High School, Nevada
You cannot continue to say that we want world class schools, raise student achievement, provide more opportunities for students, and look for innovative ways to educate students without increased state funding.
Lynn A. Baldus, 6-12 Principal
St. Ansgar Middle and High School
We continue to have increased costs and see an increase in our students' needs (both academically and economically). We do not want to cut staff or programs, but we will not have a choice if we do not see increased state support.
Jonathan W Hasleiet, Elementary Principal
Center Point-Urbana Intermediate
Class sizes are going to continue to increase without funding. Keeping funding even is going backwards since costs continue to increase.
Jay Lutt, Elementary Principal/Superintendent
We are at a critical time in Iowa. Lack of funding is going to hurt kids for years to come…This will haunt the state in the future as these kids head out into the workforce or college.
Kent Stopak, Elementary Principal
Titan Hill Intermediate; Lewis Central
The price of resources - fuel, utilities, textbooks, technology - continue to increase. The expectations to educate all students are increasing, and the needs of students are increasing.
Kim Nelson, Principal
We just can't keep 'getting by'--it's not fair to our kids or teachers.
Steve Humphrey, Principal
Middle School Exira-Elk Horn Kimballton
I have para-professionals in my building who do fabulous work with kids. I am ashamed of what we pay them.
Jill Burnett Requist, Principal
Carver ES; DMPS
95+% of my families qualify for income subsidies, and 50+% are English language learners. Our need for increased funding is real, and must be a priority.
Bob Schelp, Middle School Principal
East Marshall Middle School
The teacher leadership was a step in the right direction. Cutting funding for other parts of education hampers programming and staff. How encouraged will staff be to implement new techniques or strategies if they realize they may be cut next?
Linda Abbott, Principal
West Elementary Knoxville
It is essential that state funding keeps up with costs associated with a materials and technology necessary to educate students. We are currently experiencing an increase in EL populations and will need to provide additional support for these students as well.
TJ Potts, Elementary School Principal
It isn't all about funding. Things have changed and we need to adapt as educators, but there is at least some truth to “you get what you pay for" and the legislature is not willing to pay for education.
Mike Richard, Pk-5 Principal
I have a high performing elementary, but it will not stay that way with decreased state funding. If we value education, back it up with appropriate funding. 4% is appropriate and not excessive. Thanks!
Tricia Rosendahl, Elementary Principal
We deal with mental health issues, poverty issues, and no vocabulary background that we have to tackle BEFORE we can begin to teach. We are registering ELL students in upper elementary and even high school that have never been in school before. Legislators need to come out to schools in rural Iowa and spend some time understanding. It isn't like when you when to school anymore!!!!
Dewey Hupke, Elementary Principal
West Elementary/ Independence
With the limited allowable growth, our school district was forced to eliminate a classroom position. The position was a 3rd grade classroom. In 2017, the State of Iowa says all 3rd graders need to read at grade level. This gets increasingly difficult when the budget of the district is severely limited by the lack of state funding!!
Gayle Allensworth, Principal
Osage (Lincoln Elementary)
Increased state aid is essential for equitable student programming and staff benefits. Right now we are not even marginally funding the expectation of world-class schools.
Lisa Wunn, Middle School Principal
West Delaware County
…At a time when producing workers with high-level technical and analytical skills is increasingly important to a country and/or state’s prosperity, reduced or no increase in funding for basic education threaten to undermine the nation’s economic future.
Erik Buchholz, Principal
Westfield Elementary / Linn-Mar
Next year will be our third year of the Teacher Leadership Program; which has allowed us as a district to improve teaching and learning across all grade levels. Without the increased funding, many of the leadership positions may have to be dissolved, and their effectiveness will be gone too.
Nathan Wear, Principal
Solon High School
It is absolutely critical to continue to appropriately fund education. We're cheating our students, our communities, and our future if we don't.
John Sheahan, MS Principal
Roland-Story Middle School
We have always prided ourselves as a great education state. Please continue making this a reality with a 4% increase.
Jeremy Langner, Assistant Principal
Waverly-Shell Rock High School
It isn't an expense; but rather an investment.
Kristyn Kell, Principal
BCLUW High School/BCLLUW
In a small district like mine I am unable to recruit strong teachers when they are only teaching 3/4 time because we cannot afford a full time teacher.
Amy Andreassen, Principal
English Valleys Elementary/English Valleys
Just this morning, a retired third grade teacher brought in a box of copy paper to donate to our school because she knows we are pinching every penny.
Ann Lebo, Secondary Principal
Please provide funding for our schools so that every individual in Iowa has the opportunity to live a better life.
Daniel F. Grandfield, PK-4 Principal
Southeast Webster-Grand Elementary
At risk student numbers and costs for at risk students have increased. Without PROPER funding each year, they will be the first to fall through the cracks. Then there's Summer School for Substantially Deficient - how are we supposed to fund that (70 hours) without PROPER funding?
Lynne Wallace, MS/HS Principal
Mount Ayr MS/HS
For anyone to make an informative decision or build a school budget, all the facts and figures need to be known. When we do not know the state aid that we will be getting then we do not fill positions. We now have middle school classes with 29 and 30 students in each class. Even the very best teachers have difficulty providing interventions or enrichment when that many students are in one class! Please visit our schools in Iowa to see the needy students that we are trying to serve each day in overcrowded classrooms!...
Karleen Stephens, Superintendent/Elementary Principal
Diagonal Community School
In the past, Governor Branstad was a great supporter of schools. Schools could almost always count on a 4% increase. I don't know what has happened to the Republican mindset that corporate taxbreaks are more important than adequately funding schools.
Angela Livezey, Superintendent / Elementary Principal
We are already operating with limited funding and have cut about everything we can cut. We are very conservative in our spending. With increased funding our students would benefit by being provided with smaller class sizes, increased instructional resources and programs.
Matt McDonough, HS Principal
Underwood High School/Underwood
With decreased funding each year, it's more of a plug the biggest hole in the dam and trying to get by as best we can.
Doug Jiskoot, Jr/Sr High Principal
We continue to be asked to do MORE with LESS. Our plate is overflowing with expectations with no options to get a bigger plate.
Don Hasenkamp, Elementary Principal
Twin Rivers Elementary
If the Governor truly wants to be considered the Education Governor, than he and the legislator are going to need to stand for what they say they stand for or it's again just political jargon. Fully fund education.
Michelle Arneson, Elementary Principal
We are a small rural school district. Increased state support for education is EXTREMELY important for our district.
Shelly Petersen, Principal
Vinton-Shellsburg Middle School
Pay now or pay later. If you do not support the schools you will be funding programs to support adults who cannot support themselves.
John A. Ronca, High School Principal
It is certainly no secret that the families and students of the Ballard district feel they are not supported appropriately at the state level. The pressure on the students to keep doing MORE with LESS has been exhausting!
Mindy Mossman, Pleasant View Elem. Principal
Pleasant View Elem. Webster City Schools
We need to support learning in order for Iowa to move up in every way.
Art Sathoff, Superintendent
It is very challenging to do more with less year after year…Categorical funds are appreciated, such as TLC, but they don't keep the lights on and the doors open. There is a cumulative and lasting effect of several consecutive years of underfunding.