Bettendorf Community Schools Superintendent Theron Schutte said Monday he favors Gov. Terry Branstad’s proposals for reforming the state’s education system but wants to see more details, including how the proposed changes will be funded.
Schutte said the proposals to increase the minimum salary for teachers and the Teach Iowa Initiative, which would offer tuition reimbursement to top college students who agree to teach in Iowa for five years would help ensure there are more high-quality candidates for Iowa teaching jobs.
However, he said if the Legislature does not approve new funding to pay for those programs, it could create a financial hardship for school districts.
Schutte said he also supports the idea of having top-performing teachers serve as mentors to younger teachers, but that would require those teachers to spend less time in the classroom and would require the hiring of more teachers.
“I think there is some skepticism about whether the money is going to be there to pull these things together,” Schutte said.
Davenport West special education teacher Jed Ganzer said he also supports raising teacher pay and creating a system where teachers can help each other become more effective, but would not want to see the Legislature saddle school districts with the cost.
“I think they would be hard-pressed to sell it that way,” he said.
Pleasant Valley School District Superintendent Jim Spelhaug said he supports reforming Iowa’s education system, but in the meantime, he wants the Legislature to make sure the current system is adequately funded.
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When the Legislature declined during the last legislative session to set the allowable growth rate for Iowa school districts for the 2013-2014 school year, Spelhaug said he was afraid the issue would turn into a “political football,” during this year’s legislative session.
Spelhaug said Iowa school districts are working on their budgets for the next school year under the assumption that there will be no increase in allowable growth, and that the legislature in the past has under-funded the current education system.
“The reality is that the current system still has to continue to function,” Spelhaug said.