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What's The Frequency: Siouxland AEA leader says education bill signed by governor has flaws, plus legislators weigh in on broad K-12 package that includes teacher pay raise

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In this week's episode of  What’s The Frequency, our guests weigh in on the status of bills in the Iowa Legislature, including a highly-watched measure that raised teacher salaries and put in place changes to the longstanding regional Area Education Agency system.

Over this past week, the twelfth week of the Iowa session, legislators were down to debating measures that involve state money appropriations, plus those that have passed in both chambers.

They are aiming to wrap up work by the week of April 15-19. Some bills have passed and are awaiting a governor decision to sign or veto, or are still being worked out.

What’s The Frequency guests are lawmakers from each of the two political parties, including Iowa House members, Megan Jones, a Republican from Sioux Rapids, and Josh Turek, a Democrat from Council Bluffs, plus Daniel Cox, who is the chief administrator of Northwest AEA.

The big news this week was the passage of a multi-pronged education bill, where several high profile measures got wrapped into one big measure that Governor Reynolds signed into law on Wednesday.

It changes the functioning of the Area Education Agency system so that local school districts have more control of funding, and puts in place a task force to look into more AEA changes for 2025.

It also includes an increase in the minimum teacher salary to $50,0000 annually over two years, bumps up the salaries of other more tenured teachers to $62,000 over two years, and sets a 2.5 percent increase in state aid for schools in the 2024-25 yea

Cox said the process by legislators was backwards, that the AEA task force work should have come first, before changes were made. Cox said larger Iowa K-12 districts will likely move specialty services in house paid out of their budgets, with smaller rural districts likely staying with using AEA services, although superintendents will undoubtedly have tough decisions on what services to fund for students.

Cox added that the discussion of student achievement "most certainly got lost in the shuffle" of AEA bill machinations by legislators.

Click on the audio link above to hear the entire show.
*What's The Frequency, Episode 11