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Controversial Iowa education bill is now law

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(The Center Square) – Iowa teachers will see salaries increase under a new bill the governor signed Wednesday.

House File 2612 also reforms Iowa’s Area Education Agencies. It increases state supplemental aid to K-12 education by 2.5%, making the state’s total investment nearly $4 billion for fiscal year 2025, according to Gov. Kim Reynolds.

The bill raises the minimum wage over two years for new teachers to $50,000 a year. Teachers with 12 years of experience will see salaries go up to $62,000, Reynolds said.

“Iowa currently ranks in the bottom half of states for share of starting teacher pay and with this increase we soar to the top five in the nation,” said Reynolds. “But even better than our ranking is the message that it sends to current and prospective teachers: Iowa values education and those who dedicate their careers to students, and their pay should absolutely reflect it. It also puts us in a strong positive to attract and retain the best and brightest teachers for our classrooms, giving students every advantage to be successful in school.”

Changes the bill makes to the AEA’s are meant to resolve longstanding issues and give school districts local control, according to the governor.

“School districts today are required to send their local, state, and federal funding for media and ed services and special education to the AEA and mandated to use them to provide services,” said Reynolds. “For some students and school districts, the AEA’s have worked really well over the years, providing services and supports that helps students achieve their goals and assist teachers in the classroom. And while that is the expectation, it hasn’t been the experience for all students in schools. Some schools haven’t used some of the AEA services despite being forced to pay for them. Others have felt that they didn’t receive the quality that they expect. And many schools, urban and rural, large and small, have raised concerns about the lack of transparency regarding the cost of AEA services. So, these issues have persisted for many years and the data shows the impact Iowa students with disabilities have consistently performed below the national average for 20 years.”

The Iowa Department of Education will oversee the AEA’s. However, AEA’s will continue to offer all the services they currently provide, according to the governor.

The bill drew heated debates as it moved through the Legislature.

Sen. Sarah Trone Garriott, D-West Des Moines, said Iowans don’t want the bill, but the governor “has the ear” of Republicans in debate Tuesday.

“Several Republican members from the House acknowledged publicly over the weekend that there are problems with their most recent version because it was so rushed (with) mistakes that should be fixed but they voted for it anyway,” Garriott said. “And so many in this chamber will vote for this too, the House’s sloppy seconds.”

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