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Bill changing Iowa’s Area Education Agencies advances in the Senate

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(The Center Square) – A proposal to shift funding for special education from Area Educational Agencies to the schools passed a Senate subcommittee Wednesday afternoon.

Senate Study Bill 3073 would give federal and state special education dollars directly to schools, who could decide to continue contracting with the AEAs or using private contractors. The bill would also shift supervision of special education from the AEAs to the Department of Education.

Gov. Kim Reynolds is calling for the changes. She has said low test scores among the state’s disabled children show that AEAs are failing students. She praised the subcommittee’s action.

“The amendment reflects feedback from legislators, parents, teachers, and school superintendents, ensuring that AEAs can continue offering the services they do today,” Reynolds said. “If schools like the services provided by their AEA, they can continue to use them. By allowing schools to control their funding, creating efficiencies in the AEA system, and increasing teacher salaries, more money will be infused into our classrooms, so every student receives the quality education they deserve.”

The bill is drawing opposition from parents and teachers.

Retired educator Greg Hankins said in online comments that AEAs provide vital services.

“I would further say that every family in the state has likely been impacted by an AEA, either directly through services provided or by screenings,” Hankins said in the comments. “AEAs are vital. Local control is essential. Provide the funding needed for them to operate efficiently, and do nothing to dilute their effectiveness.”

It’s companion bill, House Study Bill 542 was heard in a subcommittee, but the committee did not take action on the bill, according to multiple media outlets.

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