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Newscast 5.21.2024: Severe thunderstorms impact Siouxland; AEA's reduce employees after state changes funding; Report shows rising food insecurity in Iowa

Some of the employees of Northwest Area Education Agency in Sioux City, Iowa, are shown on the agency website.

A second day of potentially severe thunderstorms could move through the Siouxland area on Tuesday until about 5 p.m.

Three schools in the Sioux City School District were without power as the day began, as part of a power outage that impacted 2,300 properties. Electricity was restored by MidAmerican Energy by 9 a.m. at Riverside Elementary School, plus at West High and West Middle schools.

The National Weather Service reported there were wind gusts above 70 mph at Sioux Gateway Airport in Sioux City at least twice, on Monday evening and again Tuesday morning. Lots of sizable branches were knocked off trees throughout the region, and golf ball sized hail impacted such places as Elk Point, South Dakota, and Royal, Iowa.

Much of Siouxland also remains under a Flood Watch, given the potential for large bouts of rain that could impact waterways. Some of the anticipated areas for the heaviest thunderstorms are forecast for the southeast edge of Siouxland, such as in Crawford County.

In other news, the dwindling of the staff members employed by Area Education Agencies in Iowa is underway a few weeks after Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds signed into law a measure that changes the longstanding funding for AEA’s.

The Northwest Area Education Agency headquartered in Sioux City in a Monday board meeting ended the positions of two people in the Creative Service Department. Four other people had their resignations approved, KTIV News first reported.

Northwest AEA’s Chief Administrator Dan Cox said the agency has lost about 12 percent of its staff.

Going back for decades, many school districts have used the regional AEA’s for specialty services that are expensive to offer on their own, or for which they may not need a full-time employee, such as media services.

In the upcoming school year, 40 percent of funding for general education and media services goes directly to AEAs and 60 percent moves to school districts. All those monies in 2025-26 will go directly to school districts.

Additionally, a May report has found about one in nine Iowans are food insecure, which is the highest number since 2017.

Nearly 11 percent of all Iowans and more than 15 percent of Iowa children are considered food insecure.

That’s according to a new report by the non-profit Feeding America that used the most recent data available from 2022.

Michelle Book is the CEO and President of the Food Bank of Iowa. She says food insecurity continues to be a growing problem because wages aren’t keeping up with cost of living.

“For the most part, the jobs that are open are jobs that pay part time wages, they don't offer benefits, they don't offer consistency or stability,” Book said.

Book says the report shows food insecurity rates are highest in Iowa’s southern rural counties that have higher poverty levels and less access to charitable services.

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