DES MOINES — State lawmakers and various education interests have forged a compromise intended to resolve how taxpayer money earmarked for home-schooling can be spent by Iowa school officials.
An amendment attached to Senate File 2288 narrows some of the uses of taxpayer dollars for home-school assistance programs, while providing for certain clerical and office support, resource materials such as computer hardware and software and transportation for education-related field trips.
A total of 4,643 families are enrolled in a public school Home School Assistance Program. School districts receive about $1,750, or 30 percent of the $5,768 per-pupil funding authorized under the state foundation aid formula for Iowa’s 361 K-12 public school districts.
“With a lot of hard legislative work, we were able to make a compromise between the wishes of the Department of Education and the home school assistance programs throughout the state. So everybody gets a little bit of what they wanted and I think this is a good middle ground,” said Sen. Bob Dvorsky, D-Coralville, the bill’s floor manager.
Sen. Becky Schmitz, D-Fairfield, one of the architects of the compromise, said the intended outcome would be continued quality programs for families enrolled in a public school Home School Assistance Program.
“It really addressed the main concerns,” she said.
Sen. Nancy Boettger, R-Harlan, said the proposed language will nullify state Department of Education rules that attempted to restrict HSAP funding uses to teachers and books. While the compromise expands the perimeters for actual programming costs, the language disallows expenditures for capital or building expenses, transportation other than approved educational activities and other expenditures not directly related the home school assistance program.
“It makes a lot of sense,” Boettger said. “It’s good for districts and it’s good for home schoolers.”
Kalona resident and home-school teacher Andrea Farrier said negotiations appeared to arrive at “a workable compromise.”
“It’s not perfect, but it definitely will help,” said Farrier, a lobbyist for the Iowa Home School Assistance Program Professionals.