Highland School Board opposes Iowa's new school bill

By Paul D. Bowker
Posted 7/14/23


The top legislative priority of the Highland School Board is opposing taxpayer money being used to fund private schools.

The Board listed its top legislative wishes at its …

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Highland School Board opposes Iowa's new school bill



The top legislative priority of the Highland School Board is opposing taxpayer money being used to fund private schools.

The Board listed its top legislative wishes at its regularly scheduled meeting July 10.

Among the changes in education at the state level is the school bill signed into law earlier this year by Gov. Kim Reynolds, allowing private schools to receive taxpayer money when a student opts for a private school instead of attending the public school in that student’s district. The program is expected to cost more than $340 million.

The School Board agreed unanimously on opposing a state policy that uses vouchers, educational savings accounts or other programs that fund private schools with taxpayer money. The Board also opposes direct payment of taxpayer money to private schools or home school education.

Included in the other three legislative priorities are supporting supplement state aid, establishing school and community programs for mental health systems, and allowing school bond issues to be passed by a majority vote.

“Sometimes as a small school, does our voice really matter?” Superintendent Ken Crawford said, adding that he hopes it does.

Board Policies

Among the many new and revised policies that the board reviewed and discussed was one addressing bullying. The new policy, mandated by state law, requires a school principal to call a students’ parents within 24 hours of when a bullying report is known.

Another change for the 2023-24 school year requires all school staffers (not just teachers) to attend four-hour training sessions on child abuse.

The policies, which went through a first read Monday, will likely be adopted at the August board meeting.

Spirit of Education

Crawford introduced the idea of beginning a “Spirit of Education” award this year. The award would honor a Highland educator who spent years in the school system and would be honored in a “Hall of Fame” way each year. Crawford told the board he was hopeful this year’s winner (not yet selected) would speak to the current school staff prior to the start of the school year.

“It’d be a good culture builder,” Crawford said.

“That would be a good start,” Board Chair Nate Robinson said.

Board members discussed a number of worthy selections, but the finalist would be chosen at a later date.

Facilities Committee

Board members Dan Ruth and Mike Golden will be among the approximate 30 named to the Facilities Committee, which is expected to begin examining and developing the district’s priority list for new and improved facilities in early August.

The committee, which will be overseen by Crawford, will meet with members of OPN Architects, an Iowa City design firm that was chosen to assess facilities and plans for possible projects.

Among additional facilities on the wish list are expanded locker rooms at the high school, expanded parking and another high school gym that would be used for events or practices.

The plans point toward the resumption of a school bond in late 2024 or 2025 once the current bond is paid off, subject to voters’ approval.

Board Action

The Board approved the tax rate certification for the 2023-24 school year. The tax levy is 13.00308, or about $13 per $1,000 of assessed property.

The Board approved a plan to sell one of the district’s buses.

The Board approved the appointments of Mark Vazquez, special education associate, and Cam Larson, boys basketball coach at the junior high school.

The Board approved a number of district policies.

Next board meeting: The board will hold its next monthly meeting at 5 p.m. August 14.

Highland School Board, Iowa school bill, Kim Reynolds


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