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Davenport School Officials Urge Iowa to Improve State Funding

Davenport School District

  "Is it fair to say a student is worth more based on their zip code?" That's one question leaders from the Davenport School District will be asking the Iowa Legislature next month, as they propose ways to improve inequalities in state funding.

School Board President, Ralph Johanson, says each year, the Davenport School District is given $175 less per student than districts with the highest property taxes in the state. That's close to a $3 million difference.

Johanson says even if the state gave Davenport just $1 more per student each year, it would be a step in the right direction. 

But, another inequality is transportation costs. Davenport spends less on buses and fuel, than rural districts with fewer students but more ground to cover. 

Davenport can spend about $1,000 more per student on books and supplies, than rural districts that need the money for transportation.

He says one solution is removing transportation from districts' budgets, and covering the costs with state aid. 

Johanson says the Davenport School District will probably have to cut $5 million from its budget next year. And even though it has $30 million in reserve, the state won't allow it to spend an additional $3 million each year.

Johanson and other district officials have formed a Legislative Advocacy Committee, to inform state lawmakers about the inequalities in state funding. The committee and the Iowa Association of School Boards plan to travel to Des Moines next month to discuss the proposal.