Increase Supplemental State Aid for Schools

For nearly a decade, the Iowa Legislature has provided Supplemental State Aid that has averaged less than 2% per year. Public education in Iowa is now facing unprecedented challenges. It is paramount that the legislature increases state aid for our public school students.


  • Public education in Iowa is the state’s largest budget item because it serves 94% of Iowa’s children.
  • For more than two decades, the annual rate of SSA growth was set by a non-partisan formula that incorporated various economic factors. The annual rate for those decades was nearly 6.5%. For the next 15 years, after growth was no longer set by a neutral formula but decided through the legislature, the annual rate dipped to 3.2%. Since 2011, school districts in Iowa have managed to educate more than a half-million students each year with an average increase in state aid of just 1.7%.
  • Because SSA has not adequately increased, Des Moines Public Schools has been absorbing budget cuts for nearly 10 years as the costs of health care, fuel, goods and services, and more continue to outpace available dollars.
  • During the same time frame student needs have increased, including: language services to more than 7,300 ELL students from 106 different nations speaking almost 200 different languages and dialects, a rise in the number of students coming from homes where parents work multiple jobs and are unable to provide adequate academic support at home, and an increase in families who qualify for free and reduced lunch to 76% of the nearly 33,000 students who attend DMPS.
  • The state’s unemployment rate is low and the district cannot raise wages adequately to compete for crucial workers like bus drivers, substitute teachers and food service workers.

Why This is a Good Investment

  • World Class Schools: Increasing the SSA will improve the educational opportunities and services available to students, helping restore Iowa’s position as the gold standard in education.
  • Teacher and Staff Retention: A stronger SSA will mean more resources for students in the classroom, and competitive pay and benefits for teachers and staff in a low unemployment environment, leading to the retention of great educators and a larger pool of high quality candidates considering work in Iowa’s schools.
  • Better Prepared Citizenry: Great jobs programs can’t help students who don’t make it to graduation. Students with a solid foundation go on to contribute to Iowa’s economy, providing the skills necessary to make our state stronger. Education is the most important investment Iowa can make in its future.

Why This is Urgent

  • After years of cuts, the district’s budget is in critical condition and is on schedule to make another $14 million in cuts next year.
  • The district is out of choices. Core staff and student opportunities in the classroom will feel the consequences of these cuts. Teacher and staff retention will continue to be difficult, and that means fewer successful and career ready Iowa public school graduates.