A pair of Republican Iowa House Representatives will be hosting a town hall meeting this weekend.
Hans Wilz of Ottumwa says he and Austin Harris of Moulton are looking to hear from the public about Area Education Agencies (AEAs). The town hall will be at Evans Middle School starting at 11:00 AM on Saturday.
Earlier this month, Governor Kim Reynolds called for AEAs to focus solely on services for students with disabilities. Reynolds originally proposed eliminating the property tax levies that support the educational and media services AEAs provide for all students and staff. She’s now proposing property taxes be retained for educational services, like curriculum for math, science, and reading classes as well as for talented and gifted programs, but Reynolds says the property tax levy for AEA media services should be repealed.
Reynolds claims Iowa students with disabilities are performing below the national average and changes need to be made to improve performance. Reynolds’ office says the students in question ranked 30th or worse on nine of 12 national assessments. Yet, Reynolds’ office claims Iowa spends over $5,300 dollars more per pupil on special education than the national average.
Under current law, state and federal funds and local property taxes for AEA services go directly to the AEAs. Reynolds wants the money to go directly to school districts instead, then local school administrators can decide whether to use an AEA, a private contractor or hire staff to provide the services.
AEA advocates say the governor’s plan poses a significant threat to the quality of education Iowa children receive and a reduction in the resources and learning tools currently available to students.
Wilz talked about what he hopes to get out of Saturday’s meeting.
“This will be a time we can all gather in the same room, with parents as well, and talk about how we can make it better. That’s really my goal. Let’s talk about the process. Let’s talk about how it sits today and then figure out are there inefficiencies we can find or are we happy with the services we have. Those are the kind of things I think we’ll be able to sit in the same room and find out tomorrow [Saturday].” Iowa House Representative Hans Wilz