Allowable Growth vital to rural school districts

The topic of allowable growth is once again making headlines after the Democrat controlled Iowa Senate passed a bill promising four percent allowable growth for Iowaâ??s school districts.

The Iowa Constitution says that allowable growth must be set two years in advance so that districts can finalize their budgets. Iowa Governor Terry Branstad has made it clear that he does not think it is necessary to set the number that far in advance.

In recent years, it has been difficult for districts to finalize budgets and programs, especially rural districts.

KTVO spoke with Superintendent Joel Pedersen of the Cardinal Community School District about this topic.

â??There is no way not to have programs affected, whether its positions, bus routes, supplies or technology; you canâ??t have less money and not have to make adjustments in your budget,â?? said Pedersen.

Pedersen acknowledge the fact that his district, like others in southeast Iowa, spends a good portion of their budget on transportation costs.

â??We sometimes as rural districts have anywhere from 10 to 20% of our budget going to transportation, even before the kids walk in the door to get their instruction,â?? said Pedersen.

It is widely known that school districts in the metro and in other larger cities across the state donâ??t spend as much on transportation costs as the rural districts, and superintendents in southeast Iowa believe that they need to start being treated fairly.

â??We feel like there should be more equity as far as transportation pieces that we would like the state to take a look at, and we think that we could benefit certainly, Cardinal and other rural districts in southeast Iowa,â?? said Pedersen.

In order for funding to be restored, Cardinal Community School District is asking for 4% growth.

â??All we are asking, we think 4% allowable growth is fair, and we believe that would meet our needs and also make up for the lack of funds the last couple of years,â?? said Pedersen.

Pedersen also told KTVO that he invites the public to go and tour their local schools to see why they need to funding, and to see what they are doing with the funds.