School Funding Bill Helps Davenport

Feb 28, 2018

It's far from perfect, but officials of the Davenport School District are pleased with the school funding bill approved by the Iowa Legislature. Now on its way to the governor, the bill adds 32 million dollars in new spending for districts across the state.

Julie DeSalvo, a member of the Davenport school board and chair of its Legislative Advocacy Committee, says the additional money is a small but significant step in the right direction - fixing the huge spending gap between Davenport and many other districts.

"We're starting slow, we realize that but we're very grateful we have a bill now that can be worked with, that can be amended, that can be reviewed next year and in subsequent years thereafter to continue to make this problem go away."

The decades-old funding formula in Iowa forces Davenport to spend up to 175 dollars less per student than many other districts across the state, including Bettendorf and Pleasant Valley.

To fix the problem Superintendent Art Tate has spent more than the formula allows, breaking the law and resulting in charges against him by the Iowa Department of Education. DeSalvo hopes the funding bill help clear him.

"We have a bill now that says 'yeah, you've been underfunded, we recognize that now.' So our hope is when he has his hearing that that will also be recognized because you have a law now that proves his point."

His hearing before state officials is now set for June.

DeSalvo says, with board approval, Dr. Tate only spent enough over what's allowed by the state formula to bring Davenport into line with other, neighboring school districts. 

Other districts "held back" by the state funding formula include North Scott, Maquoketa, Dewitt-Central, Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Fort Madison, and Muscatine.