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010218-RIA-Housing-005

Seventy-one homes are being built on the Rock Island Arsenal. Families with children may be able to send their children to Iowa schools, should a bill signed by the Iowa Legislature be signed into law.

Students who live on the Rock Island Arsenal will be able to enroll in Scott County schools, according to a provision inserted into a catchall appropriations bill that cleared the Iowa Legislature in the closing days of the session.

The bill, which won final approval a little more than a week ago, hasn't yet been signed by Gov. Kim Reynolds.

Rep. Gary Mohr, R-Bettendorf, sought the change as more military families are expected to live on Arsenal Island with the construction of new housing units there.

Specifically, the legislation allows dependents of active duty military living on a base contiguous to a county in Iowa to be counted as a resident for the purposes of attending a school district in the state. It also would allow those students to be counted as part of the state's K-12 school funding formula.

Mohr said he believes expanding the choice of schools will strengthen the Arsenal's sustainability, pointing to a letter sent to the National Governors Association earlier this year from the secretaries of the Army, Navy and Air Force. In the letter, the secretaries said local schools and the ability of spouses to obtain jobs and further careers are key concerns for military families, who transfer frequently.

Currently, students who live on Arsenal Island go to the Moline-Coal Valley School District. About a dozen students who live on the island were attending Moline schools, according to an estimate earlier this year.

Mohr has said he initiated the legislation this year after getting a request from Army Col. Kenneth Tauke, commander of the Arsenal garrison. Eric Cramer, a spokesman for the garrison, said Monday the garrison doesn't comment on pending legislation.

A Legislative Services Agency analysis of the new provision predicted that eventually 45 students living on the island would go to Iowa schools at a cost of about $370,000 to the state.

There are 10 school districts where families could enroll, the legislative analysis said.

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