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September 18, 2023

Iowa AEAs at risk with new bill

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After last year’s introduction of vouchers for families to enroll their children in private schools, governor Kim Reynolds plans to change Iowa Area Education Agencies (AEAs). 

In Reynolds’ Condition of the State address, she discussed Iowa AEAs as the next organization to examine. Currently, school districts in Iowa send their state and federal special education funds to an AEA. They provide several different services to the schools. Reynolds wants to allow schools to choose where their special education funds go and which resources they would like. 

AEAs provide many services to the communities, not just schools. AEAs offer services for parents and their students and the majority of the training for teachers. They also provide schools with educational resources like library books, digital books and transportation services.

Originally Reynolds had no plans of closing Iowa AEAs, but recently retracted that statement saying Iowa does not need nine as it is a small state.

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Reynolds also changed her original plan and said AEAs could continue to provide schools with general education and media services by school request and Iowa Department of Education approval. However, many services the AEAs provide would be cut. Schools would still choose where their funds go and whether to hire new employees or work with a private company for special education services.

If AEAs do not receive enough funding from schools, they could close. Pam Jochum, the senate minority leader, said that if these changes are made, the system will unravel and that rural schools would be dramatically impacted

Jennifer Konfrst, the house minority leader, said Reynolds didn’t discuss the bill with Democrats. Konfrst believes Reynolds is trying to “‘snip around the edges and change it [the bill],’” after Iowans expressed concerns about the bill.

On Jan 31, the bill passed the Senate, but met resistance by many lawmakers in both the House and Senate. Democrats opposed the bill in both subcommittees and many Republicans were skeptical of it. 

Republican representative, Skyler Wheeler, thought it needed to be talked about more and David Young said not many people liked the reforms in Reynolds’ proposal. 

It is unknown if the bill will move forward in the House. If the bill does not get reported out of a committee by Feb 16, it will not be eligible for further consideration.

Jochum urges Iowans to continue to speak out about the bill as their voices have power.

 “‘Please understand the power of your voice in your government and start using it more… I think that what we’re seeing is a reaction from the governor and from Republicans on, ‘Gee, maybe we did this wrong.’ And they did,’” Jochum said.

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About the Contributor
Kenz Morrison, Staff Writer/News Editor
Kenz is a junior, and this is her second year as a staff writer for The Growl. She is also the news editor. Kenz is also involved in Spanish club, and plans to play tennis in the spring. Her favorite subject in school is history, and her favorite color is lavender. She likes to watch "Station 19" and "Grey's Anatomy" and her favorite food is chicken alfredo. Outside of school, Kenz likes working out, reading and hanging out with her family and friends. After high school she plans to become a paramedic or a social media manager. One piece of advice she has is, "Never doubt yourself because you might miss a great opportunity."
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