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Newscast 02.15.24: The Iowa House and Senate promote differing bills to address concerns about Iowa Area Education Agencies

The Iowa Legislature
The Iowa Legislature

Just ahead of the legislature's first funnel for bills, the Iowa House education subcommittee Thursday advanced a bill to overhaul the state’s Area Education Agencies to the full house committee.

This bill addresses some of the complaints about Governor Reynolds’ plan. That bill would allow local school districts to contract for special education services outside of the AEAs.

The House has a three-year plan that would not cut any money from the system. By year three, school districts could choose where to spend funds for education and media services. But they would need to spend special education money through their local AEA.

At Thursday's subcommittee hearing, several educational leaders and lobbyists said they were encouraged by the new bill. Melissa Peterson of the Iowa State Education Association said she still opposed the bill but, she was encouraged by its proposal to create a taskforce with the many stakeholders of the AEAs.

But we just want to make sure we have parents, we have teachers, we have specialists who are involved in education services and special education services involved in that conversation. So we would really like to see that piece moved forward.”

The House education subcommittee also advanced a bill that would raise the minimum salary for new teachers to 50,000 dollars over two years.

On Wednesday, the Senate Education Committee approved a different plan to overhaul Iowa’s Area Education Agencies.

The the bill would give districts control over 90 percent of their special ed money, but 10 percent would still go directly to the local AEA.