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Sioux City School District responds to signing of School Choice Bill

KMEG Sioux City 1/25/2023 Katie Copple
© Provided by KMEG Sioux City

Iowa has officially joined the small group of states sending public money to private schools as Governor Kim Reynolds signed her "School Choice" Bill into law hours after statehouse Republicans pushed it through both the state House and State Senate.

Sioux City Community Schools reacted to that bill signing, saying this could have a big negative impact on the district.

The school board voted unanimously Monday night to express opposition to the bill.

Board President Dan Greenwell said the district is concerned about losing funding.

"Yes, it's a concern for us," Greenwell said. "Not for next year, but for years thereafter, particularly when it's fully implemented after three years. I think it's a potential problem for public schools, a significant problem. Next year it won't have that much impact, but when you start talking pulling $340-$350 million from the public schools in Iowa, it will definitely have an impact in Sioux City."

Greenwell says the state currently funds a majority of the school's budget, but should it lessen the funding in the coming years because of this bill, the burden to make up the difference would likely fall on local taxpayers.

"The state funds 87.5% of the school's budget," he said. "That means the other portion is borne by taxpayers. Should the state lower that funding, we are going to need funds to run the schools and that will probably be increased taxes if the state allows that."

Roughly two-thirds of the district's students are on free and reduced lunch, which is a large part of the school's budget as well as funding ESL and Title One reading programs.

The board is concerned that the state could pull or reduce that funding in the future after the school choice bill is fully implemented.

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