The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Opinion | Reynolds’ changes to AEA law has benefits, but it didn’t start that way

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed new legislation to improve teacher pay and fix issues to proposed funding allocation for Area Education Agencies.
Emily Nyberg
Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds talks with supporters after the 2023 Thanksgiving Family Forum hosted by The FAMiLY Leader, an organization dedicated to advancing the role of religious values in government, at the Marriott hotel in downtown Des Moines on Friday, Nov. 17, 2023. Ramaswamy sat with his son, who ran onto the stage earlier in the event. The event began at 3:30 p.m. with a round table discussion, and was followed by meet-and-greet events with each of the candidates, which included Vivek Ramaswamy, Ron DeSantis, and Nikki Haley.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has dodged a bullet.

On March 27, Reynolds made the right call in signing a new law to make important changes to Iowa’s Area Education Agencies after reviewing feedback from disgruntled parents and lawmakers as well as evidence of deficient testing scores for students with disabilities and the student population in general.

An area education agency, or AEA, has one main directive: to provide students who have disabilities under 21 years old with support and education services. As of July 2022, 12.5 percent of Iowa’s population has a disability, amounting to over 390,000 citizens.

Reynolds’ new law has many benefits, but it didn’t start out that way.

Back in January, the governor originally planned to allocate the funding meant for AEAs straight into Iowa school districts, which would have been an awful idea, considering an improperly funded AEA cannot continue to help students with disabilities.

However, the power of democracy came into play, and Reynolds met with parents and lawmakers to discuss an alternative solution. After a couple of months of deliberation, Reynolds signed the legislation into law. The final bill appears to be a success for both the AEA and the school districts.

The revised bill makes it so Iowa’s AEAs will retain 90 percent of their special education funding, while school districts will have control over just 10 percent of special education funds. Within another year of being implemented, districts would gain control over general education and media services funding within the AEA.

While the deliberations were going on, Reynolds chose to make these changes because the U.S. Department of Education had stated Iowa was in jeopardy when it came to an area of special education in a report from 2018.

According to Reynolds, the bill “shifts funding to school districts, empowering them with local control to decide how best to serve their students and improve education outcomes without disrupting services or dismantling the system.”

Reynolds is making the right call by allowing school districts some control to determine what is best for their students, but most importantly, preserving the majority of AEAs’ funding. These changes may actually work and improve the school system now that both the districts and AEAs can do their jobs adequately.

Another important change the bill will bring is an increase to teacher salaries. Iowa teachers will now have their minimum salary raised to $50,000 after two years of implementation.

In fact, any teacher with 12 years of experience or more will have their minimum salary raised up to $62,000. Additionally, Reynolds had claimed that with the addition of a 2.5 percent state supplemental aid rate, the government would have invested around $4 billion in Iowa’s education system, according to Iowa Capital Dispatch.

Essentially, the governor has successfully increased teacher pay and allocated more control to Iowa school districts without the expense of Area Education Agency funding. All of these changes will no doubt help Iowa’s education system for years to come.

Of course, like any legislation, there will be skeptics, but as it stands, this bill is an improvement for Iowa.

Reynolds did well this time.

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About the Contributors
Aaron El-Kerdani
Aaron El-Kerdani, Opinions Columnist
Fouad "Aaron" El-Kerdani is a third year student a the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinema. Prior to joining The Daily Iowan, Aaron did some journalism work for his classess involving interviews, photography, video editing, traveling to another country to cover an event, and his experience in film classess helped him develop these skills and gain knowledge on camera work and writing.
Emily Nyberg
Emily Nyberg, Visual Editor
Emily Nyberg is a second-year student at the University of Iowa double majoring in Journalism and Cinematic arts. Prior to her role as a Visual Editor, Emily was a Photojournalist, and a News Reporter covering higher education.