Each legislative session a group of parents, teachers, students and community members meet to talk about what Des Moines Public Schools students need, and how to convince the Iowa Legislature to fund those priorities. Last Saturday, organizers had to bring in extra chairs for this year’s first Community Legislative Action Team Coffee with Legislators at Central Campus in the board room.
Superintendent Dr. Thomas Ahart shared the seriousness of the funding problem DMPS faces.
“We’ve been underfunded for almost a decade,” Dr. Ahart said. “Each year we’ve had to find ways to make cuts. We’re at the point that we’re out of options.”
CLAT has four priorities this legislative session:
EXPAND SUPPORT FOR OUR ENGLISH LANGUAGE LEARNERS: Increase weighted English Language Learner (ELL) funding to .39, in accordance with evidence-based practice and as recommended by the 2013 task force report on ELL education in Iowa.
EXPAND PRESCHOOL FUNDING FOR CHILDREN IN POVERTY: Increase weighted funding in the Statewide Voluntary Preschool Program (SWVPP) for children living at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level.
EXPAND SUPPORT FOR DISADVANTAGED STUDENTS: Increased weighted funding for students living in poverty. Study after study shows students who do not have adequate resources at home are not prepared for learning at school. Schools with large numbers of students who live with poverty, both in urban and rural areas, must provide more services than their more affluent counterparts to achieve the same result.
INCREASE SUPPLEMENTAL STATE AID: We need legislators to take K-12 funding more seriously. Increases in supplemental state aid have not kept up with the cost of living, forcing districts to make hard choices impacting students and staff.
Please join our effort to meet the needs of our students.
Iowa Sen. Tony Bisignano and representatives Marti Anderson, Jennifer Konfrst, Bruce Hunter, Bruce Meyer and Heather Matson fielded questions from the crowd of about sixty, and made it clear they share the same stand on public education funding.
“Reach out to your suburban friends who have Republican legislators representing them,” Sen. Bisignano said, referring to the current legislative majority. “We all have a common goal.”
Rep. Konfrst encouraged everyone to continue to meet, but also to make their presence known at the Iowa State Capitol.
“We need you at the statehouse backing us up,” she said. “We need your real-life stories to convince other legislators a funding increase is needed.”
Four more monthly coffees are planned during the 2020 legislative session.
MONTHLY LEGISLATIVE COFFEES
Get updates from area legislators about education-related issues on the second Saturday of each month from 9:00 – 10:30 AM starting in January.
- Saturday, January 11 – Brubaker Elementary School, 2900 East 42nd St., Des Moines
- Saturday, February 8 – Hoover High School, 4800 Aurora Ave., Des Moines
- Saturday, March 14 – Callanan Middle School, 3010 Center St., Des Moines
- Saturday, April 11 – Brody Middle School, 2501 Park Ave., Des Moines