2021 Legislative Session Bill Summaries

IASB includes in its bill summary only those bills that have passed a committee, been approved by the House or the Senate or signed by the governor. This is to focus attention on those bills the legislature has determined have a chance of becoming law. Each year, there are a large number of bills that are introduced, impacting K-12 public education. It’s common that bills may have an initial hearing at the subcommittee level but progress no further. IASB’s goal is to focus you attention on bills that are actually moving toward enactment. This does not mean that we do not give our full attention to bills that implement the resolutions adopted by the delegate assembly each year. If you have specific questions about a bill that is not listed, please contact Phil Jeneary or Emily Piper for more information.

Below are summaries of bills important to IASB that we are tracking throughout the session.
 

Standards & Accountability

HF 734 – Funding Reading Research Center: The bill makes a $250,000 appropriation to the Iowa Reading Research Center to help practitioner programs offer the advanced dyslexia specialist endorsement and the establishment of that endorsement.

IASB registered neutral on the bill but is supportive of the work of the Iowa Reading Research Center. The bill passed the House Education committee and was referred to the House Appropriations committee. 

HF 793 – Physical Education Requirement Exemption: This bill allows a student enrolled in a junior reserve officers’ training corps to be exempt from the physical education graduation requirement. The student will receive 1/8th P.E. credit for each semester that student is enrolled in the program. 

IASB registered neutral on the bill as IASB generally opposes exemption of educational requirements but the JROTC physical training standards would more than meet the physical education requirement. The bill passed the Senate on a 46-0 vote after previously passing the House by a 92-0 vote. The bill goes to Governor Reynolds for her consideration.

SF 265 – Student Retention: This bill allows parents to request their child be retained at their current grade level during the 2020-21 school year if they did not make adequate educational progress. The bill was amended by the committee to eliminate language allowing a student to then switch grade levels mid-year.

IASB registered neutral on the bill because most districts currently have a process in place for this and it could create logistical issues switching grade levels during the year. The bill was approved by the House Education committee after previously passing the Senate on a 43-5 vote.  

SF 517 – Student Participation in Legislative Page Program: This bill states school districts and accredited nonpublic schools must grant students who participate in the legislative page program one-half unit of social studies credit towards graduation and waives the physical education requirement for the students in the program.

IASB registered in support of the bill because of the real-world learning opportunities the page program provides high school students. The bill passed the House on an 82-9 vote after previously passing the Senate on a vote of 44-1 and goes to the governor for her consideration.
 

Educator Quality

HF 675 – Substitute Teacher Authorizations: This bill allows a person with a substitute authorization license to teach in a PK-12 grade class for not more than ten consecutive days if they have at least an associate degree and not less than sixty undergraduate hours. The bill clarifies that someone seeking a substitute authorization must still undergo a background check, pay applicable fees, and successfully complete the substitute authorization course. An administer can also file a written request to the Board of Educational Examiners for an extension of the ten-day limit.
  

IASB registered in support of the bill because it gives districts flexibility in finding substitute teachers to cover longer teacher absences. The bill passed the Senate on a 46-0 vote after previously passing the House on a 93-0 vote. The bill goes to Governor Reynolds for her consideration.

HF 722  Teach Iowa Scholar Program: This bill allows money collected from the teacher shortage loan program to be deposited in the Teach Iowa Scholar Program. The bill strikes language creating the Teacher Shortage Loan Forgiveness Repayment Fund and any remaining funds in that account and the Teacher Shortage Loan Forgivable Loan Repayment account on June 30, 2021 will be directed to the Teach Iowa Scholar Program.  

IASB is registered in support because this program is designed to help keep and hire teachers in hard to fill positions as outlined by the Department of Education. HF 722 passed the Senate on a 48-0 vote after previously passing the House on a 93-0 vote and heads to the governor for her consideration.  

HF 770 – Licensure Renewal Requirements: This bill requires that rules adopted by the Board of Educational Examiners allow an individual to earn up to half of the credits needed for licensure renewal by completing an individualized professional development plan or by completing courses or programs offered by a professional development program, practitioner preparation institution or an AEA approved by the State Board of Education.  

IASB registered in support of the bill because it provides flexibility for teachers to obtain licensure renewal. The bill passed the Senate on a 46-0 vote after previously passing the House by a 92-0 vote. The bill goes to Governor Reynolds for her consideration. 

SF 532 – Statement of Professional Recognition: This bill directs the Board of Educational Examiners (BOEE) to create a statement of professional recognition for behavioral analysts and by January 1, 2022, a statement of professional recognition for mental health professionals. The House adopted an amendment stating that the BOEE rules require any mental health professional providing mental health services to schools must obtain this statement unless a professional license or endorsement has already been issued to the individual by the BOEE. 

IASB registered in support of the bill because this statement will ensure that behavioral analysts and licensed mental health counselors will be compensated by school districts for their work with students. The Senate concurred with the House amendment on a 46-0 vote after previously passing the House on a 93-0 vote. The bill goes to Governor Reynolds for her consideration.

SF 547 – Minority Teacher Recruitment: This bill prioritizes applicants for the Teach Iowa Scholar program by adding minority teachers to the list after those seeking renewal and people who are graduates of an approved teacher prep program. The bill also increases the award amount to $7,500/year and $37,500 over a five-year period. The bill was amended in committee to state that a person who receives the grant must teach at a school with a minimum ten percent minority composition. 

IASB registered in support of this bill to further our efforts to attract teachers of color into public school districts. The bill was approved by the House Education committee after previously passing the Senate on a 45-0 vote.
 

Fiscal Responsibility & Stewardship 

HF 315 – Programs for At-Risk Children: This bill allows money appropriated to the Department of Education to assist schools in developing program plans and early childhood education needs can also be used by the AEAs for the same purpose. The bill also strikes language about grant awards given to school districts needing to be a combination of preschool and full-day kindergarten.

IASB registered neutral on the bill as this cleaned up language and deals with AEA programs. The bill passed the Senate on a 44-0 vote after previously passing the House by a 93-0 vote. Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law on April 30, 2021.

HF 317  Funding for Children in Certain Facilities: This bill modifies the calculation used to determine the amount of funding a school district can request by changing the calculation from number of months to number of days that a student is enrolled in the district in order to provide education services to children living in approved or licensed shelter home or other approved facilities.

IASB is registered neutral on the bill as it works to provide additional information on how this will affect school districts. The bill passed the Senate on a 47-0 vote after previously passing the House on a 94-0 vote. Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law on April 30, 2021. 

HF 318 - Statewide Preschool Eligibility: This bill expands the eligibility requirements for the four-year-old statewide voluntary preschool program to allow five-year olds who reach that age between March 15th and September 15th. This is a three-year pilot project and a four-year-old who attends preschool can attend preschool again as a five-year-old if there is sufficient space. Enrollment priority will be given to four year olds. The bill requires schools to provide consultation services for parents to provide them with an assessment of their child’s readiness for the kindergarten or preschool program. The Department of Education will collect information from participating schools on enrollment and other demographic information of students enrolled in the programs. 

IASB registered in support of the bill because it focuses attention and resources on early childhood education which is the founding block for later educational achievement. The bill was approved by the Senate Education committee after previously passing the House on a 96-0 vote.

HF 532 – School District Supplemental Appropriation: This bill provides a $27.2 million one-time supplemental appropriation to school districts equal to the number of qualified instruction days to help offset costs incurred due to the ongoing pandemic. This comes out to about sixty dollars per pupil. The committee approved an amendment to be adopted on the floor to address several provisions: 

  • Calculates the number of qualified instruction school days starting from July 1, 2020 through January 29, 2021 that a district offered full-time in-person instruction, hybrid learning or an approved virtual learning environment in accordance with disaster proclamation. 
  • The maximum number of qualified instruction days eligible for districts is ninety and will be determined by the number of days that a district followed the governor’s proclamation and SF 2310.  
  • Clarifies the supplemental amount will address enrollment served not certified enrollment  
  • Supplemental amount is considered miscellaneous income and will be deposited into the school’s general fund. 
  • $1 per pupil served will be given the AEA to offset their costs.  
  • Creates a grant program for districts that have lost preschool enrollment but will see an increase next year to petition the School Budget Review Committee (SBRC) to provide modified supplemental amounts to make up costs.  
  • If a district’s ending fund preschool balance is equal to or less than 25% of the preschool foundation aid the modified amount will be given. If a district’s ending fund balance is 25% or greater then the district will provide reasoning for the amount requested.   

IASB is currently registered opposed to the bill but will change to support when the amendment is approved on the floor. The bill was approved by the Senate Appropriations committee after previously passing the Senate Education committee and the House on a 71-26 vote. 

HF 602 – Student Activity Fund: This bill allows districts to transfer general funds to the student activity fund to cover cocurricular and extracurricular activities. The board must pass a resolution before making a transfer. Districts will be able to make transfers to the student activity fund by July 1, 2023. The bill was amended in committee to cover district extracurricular and cocurricular activities from March 15, 2020 through June 30, 2022. 

IASB registered in support of the bill because this fund has suffered loss of revenue due to the pandemic and limiting fans while having the same expenses. The bill passed the Senate on a 48-0 vote after previously passing the House on a 96-0 vote. The bill goes to Governor Reynolds for her consideration. 

HF 605 – ELL Weighting: This bill divides English proficient students into two categories based on proficiency and provides additional weighting for those students. Students identified as “Intensive student” will get an additional .26 weighting. Students identified as “Intermediate student” will get an additional .21 weighting. This change will be effective for the 2021-2022 school year.  

IASB registered in support of the bill as it increases weighting for ELL students to help them gain English proficiency. The Senate passed the bill on a 46-0 vote after previously passing the House on a 96-0 vote. Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law on April 30, 2021. 

HF 868 – Education Appropriations: This bill appropriates a total of $970 million for PK-12 education, community colleges, regents universities, and the Department of Education. This was an increase of $24.4 million over last fiscal year. Some of the budget items impacting PK-12 and AEAs include: 

  • $23 million for Future Ready Iowa Last Dollar Scholar (Senate version: $18M)
  • $22.9 million for Early Childhood Iowa Fund (Senate version: $23.2M)
  • $3 million for Statewide Student Assessment (Same as Senate version)
  • $3.1 million for Children’s Mental Health School-Based Training and Support (Senate version: $2.1M)
  • $1.6 million for Therapeutic Classrooms (Same as Senate version)

Other items of interest and funding differences: 

  • Requires the Department of Education (DE) to provide reading assessments for PK-6 to find proficiency. The DE can charge districts for the cost of the assessments which can be paid out of the Early Intervention Fund.
  • Requires the Department of Education to submit a report by January 15, 2022, detailing the department’s anti-bullying programming and current and future expenditures for the program for FY 2022.
  • Provides that funding for the Children’s Mental Health School-Based Training and Support program be allocated to the AEAs for mental health services including mental health awareness training for educators. 
  • $10 million increase for the Future Ready Iowa Last Dollar Scholar Program.
  • $6 million increase for Community Colleges.
  • $1.4 million increase for the Iowa Jobs for America’s Graduates (iJAG) program.
  • $1 million increase for children’s mental health training (total provided is 3.1 million).
  • $500,000 for classroom environment professional development.
  • $500,000 to the DE to develop standards related to behavior in classrooms, restraint of students, least restrictive environments and research-based intervention strategies.
  • $500,000 to the DE for reimbursement to school districts claims for therapeutic classroom transportation.
     

The bill was amended on the floor to include a significant policy item, creating a new accreditation process.  This process, created without stakeholder input, makes the following substantiative changes:

  • Increased enforcement provisions, giving the DE more latitude to impose penalties on districts for noncompliance including conditions on funds, withholding of state and federal payments and reporting to the attorney general and/or the statue auditor for investigation.
  • Replaces the current annual desk audit process with a required DE site visit every other year.

In addition, the amendment allows a group of citizens to file a petition with the school board for a public hearing on any matter.  The petition must have signatures equal to at least 5% of those who voted in the last regular school election.  The board would be required to hold a public hearing on the matter in the petition within 30 days.  Finally, the amendment directs the DE to place guidance for community members and parents who have concerns with their school district or school board.

IASB was registered neutral on the bill as is common practice with budget bills but has changed our registration to opposed with the adoption of this amendment. The bill passed the House on a 51-38 vote.

HSB 277 – Standing Appropriations Bill: This appropriations bill is generally the vehicle for the end of session including policy initiatives that legislators didn’t accomplish during the legislative session.   The legislature continued the past practice of reducing funding for the AEAs but reduced the amount of that reduction to only $12.5 million.  In addition, the bill eliminates the state funds for the instructional support levy.   

IASB is registered neutral on the bill as is general practice on appropriations bills.  The bill was approved by the House Appropriations Committee and is eligible for floor debate.   

HSB 278  Omnibus Tax Bill: The bill encompasses several tax priorities for House Republicans including elimination of the triggers for the 2018 income tax cuts to take effect.  It includes a phased increase in the amount of credit taxpayers can get for a contribution to a school tuition organization, up to an 85% credit when fully implemented.   In addition, it gradually increases the amount to $20 million over a period of five years.  Finally, the bill includes reimbursement parity for behavioral health telehealth.

IASB is registered opposed to the bill because it increases the school tuition tax credit and the amount of state money dedicated to that.  The bill passed the House Ways and Means Committee and is eligible for House floor debate.

SF 258 – School Resource Officers: This bill allows districts to levy additional property taxes and income surtax above the instructional support 10% limit to pay for the cost of school resource office and equipment.

IASB registered in support of the bill because school safety is a top concern, and this bill gives districts flexibility to hire an SRO which allows the board to shift those costs to provide additional funds to the classroom. The bill passed out of the Senate Education committee and was assigned to the Senate Ways & Means committee. 

SF 260 – Medicaid Reimbursement: This bill requires a receiving district to provide information and documentation to the sending district for Medicaid eligible services in the case of an open enrolled student who receives special education services.  

IASB registered in support of this bill because it helps reduce costs to the sending district for open enrolled special education students.   The bill passed the House on a 91-0 vote after previously passing the Senate by a 47-0 vote. Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law on April 30, 2021.  

SF 587 – Property Tax Omnibus: This bill is the vehicle to remove the county property tax levy for mental health and replace it with state funding. The bill eliminates the commercial and industrial property tax backfill to provide the initial funding for mental health services. In addition, the bill raises the school foundation level to 88.4% to offset the loss of the backfill. However, other school levies will be negatively impacted including management levy, cash reserve levy, PPEL, PERL and debt service levy. Finally, the bill eliminates the voter-approved PERL levy. 27 districts have this levy, raising approximately $3.5 million across those districts. The bill was amended on the Senate floor to provide a three-year phase-out of PERL, but it also reduced by half the amount that could be levied.

IASB registered opposed because it eliminates a voter approved levy and the backfill which is designed to hold schools harmless for the commercial and industrial property tax exemption. The bill passed the Senate on a 31-17 vote and is in the House Ways and Means Committee. 

SF 590 – Creation of Land Banks: This bill creates land banks for the purpose of repairing or fixing dilapidated or abandoned buildings so it can be used for economic development.  

IASB is registered neutral on the bill as the land in question is likely not generating much, if any, property tax revenue and the potential to improve those properties would be good for the community and the local school district. The bill was approved by the Senate Ways & Means committee.  

SF 596 – Education Appropriations: This bill appropriates a total of $976 million for PK-12 education, community colleges, regents universities, and the Department of Education. This was an increase of $64 million over last fiscal year. Some of the budget items impacting PK-12 and AEAs include: 

  • $18 million for Future Ready Iowa Last Dollar Scholar (House version: $23 million) 
  • $23.2 million for Early Childhood Iowa Fund (House version: $22.9 million) 
  • $3 million for Statewide Student Assessment (Same as House version) 
  • $3 million for Student First Scholarships, if SF 159 is enacted (Not in House version)
  • $2.1 million for Children’s Mental Health School-Based Training and Support (House version: $3.1 million)  
  • $1.6 million for Therapeutic Classrooms (Same as House version) 

Other items of interest and funding differences: 

  • Requires the Task Force on Growing a Diverse K-12 Teacher Base in Iowa to report findings, recommendations, proposed legislative or administrative rule changes to Governor, legislature and state board by December 15, 2021. 
  • Requires the Department of Education (DE) to provide reading assessments for PK-6 to find proficiency. The DE can charge districts for the cost of the assessments which can be paid out of the Early Intervention Fund. 
  • Requires the Department of Education to submit a report by January 15, 2022, detailing the department’s anti-bullying programming and current and future expenditures for the program for FY 2022 
  • $5 million increase for the Future Ready Iowa Last Dollar Scholar Program 
  • $2 million increase for the Iowa Jobs for American’s Graduates (iJAG) program 
  • $6.5 million increase for Community Colleges 
  • $500,000 to the DE to develop standards related to behavior in classrooms, restraint of students, least restrictive environments and research-based intervention strategies. 
  • $500,000 to the DE for reimbursement to school districts claims for therapeutic classroom transportation. 

In addition, the bill includes language to include a bachelor's level social worker as a position under operational sharing incentives. 

IASB registered neutral on the bill as is common practice with budget bills. The bill was approved by the Senate Appropriations committee. 

SF 615 – Standings Bill: This appropriations bill is generally the vehicle for the end of session including policy initiatives that legislators didn’t accomplish during the legislative session. The legislature continued the past practice of reducing funding for the AEAs by $15 million and eliminating the state funds for the instructional support levy.

IASB is registered neutral on the bill as is general practice on appropriations bills. The bill was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee and is eligible for floor debate.
 

Governance

HF 228 – Voluntary Diversity Plans: This bill eliminates the ability of a district with a voluntary diversity plan to reject an open enrollment request if it conflicts with their diversity plan. Five districts have such plans and use them to maintain a ratio of socio-economic status within their buildings. The Senate amended the bill to waive the March 1st open enrollment deadline for the 2021-2022 school year if a district had a diversity plan. The amendment also makes the bill effective upon enactment. 

IASB registered opposed to the bill because research shows students perform better with a diverse student make up and this bill takes away the ability of a district to keep their districts more diverse. The House approved the Senate amendment on a vote of 56-37. The bill previously passed the Senate on a 29-17 vote. The bill goes to Governor Reynolds for her consideration. 

HF 744 – First Amendment Protections: This bill requires school boards to protect the intellectual freedom of students and faculty and to establish policies outlining free speech protections. An employee could face disciplinary action by the Board of Educational Examiners if a school board or a court finds that employee discriminated against a student or employee of the district. The bill was amended by the House to address several issues: 

  • If a college student organization is found to have knowingly or intentionally violated the first amendment rights of a student or group, the institution can withhold that group’s funds for up to one year;
  • Removed language creating a three member “Free Speech” committee on the Board of Regents as the regents already do this.
  • Allows the Board of Educational Examiners to deny or revoke a license if a person knowingly and intentionally discriminates against a student’s free speech.
  • School boards must adopt written publication codes that outline all provisions of free speech required under state code.
  • Prohibits that a school employee be dismissed, suspended, disciplined or terminated for protecting a student in engaging in free speech activities.

IASB registered in support of the bill because it protects student and employee first amendment rights. The bill, as amended, passed the House on a 92-1 vote and the Senate concurred with the House amendment on a 48-0 vote, sending it to the governor for her consideration.

HF 802
 Diversity and Inclusion Training
: This bill prohibits any mandatory staff or student training or curriculum from teaching, advocating, or promoting divisive concepts including but not limited to: 

  • One race or sex is inherently superior to another.
  • Iowa or the United States is fundamentally racist or sexist.
  • An individual, based on that person’s race or sex is inherently or systematically racist, sexist, or oppressive.
  • Individuals should be discriminated against or receive adverse treatment based on their race or sex.
  • An individual bears responsibility for actions committed in the past by other members of the same race or sex.
  • An individual should feel guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress based on that person’s race or sex.
  • Any other form of race or sex scapegoating or stereotyping.
     

The Senate amended the bill and made the following changes: 

  • Eliminates the term “divisive concepts” and replaces it with and defines “specific defined concepts.”
  • Clarified the definition of “government entity” to mean any state governmental unit and any association or organization whose budget consists primarily of taxpayer dollars (this would include IASB).
  • Prohibits any training that promotes, encourages, advocates or prejudices towards others based on demographic group membership or identity.
  • States that employees or contractors providing mandatory training can respond to questions regarding stereotyping, scapegoating or prejudice if asked in a training.
  • Specifies that curriculum can include sexism, racism, segregation or laws that implemented these policies.
  • Prohibits school districts from discriminating against employees based on political ideology Removes student newspaper protections as that language was added to HF 744. 

The bill also prohibits any curriculum that includes specific defined concepts but also allows the teaching of divisive content as part of the general academic instruction.

IASB registered neutral on the bill but has concerns as this could affect the way districts choose curriculum and inadvertently limit the ability to teach controversial material. The bill was approved, as amended, by the Senate on a 30-18 vote. The House concurred with the Senate amendment on a 53-35 vote, sending the bill to the governor for her consideration. 

HF 813 – Charter School Expansion: This bill gives authority to private entities to open a charter school outside the direction of a locally elected school board. A school board may also form a founding group to request permission from the state board of education to establish a charter school. The bill was amended by the House to address some issues: 

  • Limits a charter school contract to five years 
  • Requires the governing body of a charter school to comply with open meeting requirements. 
  • Requires the governing body to post its budget on the charter school’s website. 
  • Requires an applicant to specifically list which state statutes or rules it does not intend to comply with the application is approved. 
  • Requires a governing body of a charter school to be comprised of at least 50% of residents in the geographic area served by the school AND requires all members of the governing body to be residents of the state. 
  • Requires the state to directly pay the charter school for students who were not previously enrolled in a public school. 
  • Requires the resident district to pay special education costs of a student enrolled in a charter school AND requires the charter school to submit documentation to the resident district to seek Medicaid reimbursement. 

IASB registered in opposition to the bill because IASB’s legislative platform specifies charter schools should be under the direction of the school board. Schools already provide innovative and flexible program offerings to meet the needs of students. The bill passed the Senate on a 30-18 vote after previously passing the House by a 55-40 vote. The bill goes to Governor Reynolds for her consideration. 

HF 822 – Political Lobbying: This bill requires a political subdivision (county, city, town, school district) that contracts or pays someone to lobby on their behalf to meet specific requirements: 

  • Use RFP’s for lobbying services. 
  • The contract cannot be for more than five years. 
  • Expands the current yearly audit by the State Auditor to include a total number of hours spent lobbying. 
  • Documents are subject to open records laws.  

IASB registered neutral on the bill as the association already keeps track of employee lobbying efforts and uses current practices in hiring a lobbyist for the organization. The bill was approved by the Senate State Government committee after previously passing the House by a 91-3 vote.  

SF 260 – Medicaid Reimbursement: This bill requires a receiving district to provide information and documentation to the sending district for Medicaid eligible services in the case of an open enrolled student who receives special education services.  

IASB registered in support of this bill because it helps reduce costs to the sending district for open enrolled special education students.   The bill passed the House on a 91-0 vote after previously passing the Senate by a 47-0 vote and goes to the governor for her consideration. 

SF 578– Local Farm Produce Programs: This bill creates a farm-to-school fund and program in the state treasury under the control of the Iowa Department of Agriculture and Land Stewardship. The department will reimburse districts, up to $1,000, for expenses on produce, fruit and vegetables, meat, poultry, fish, milk or dairy products, honey, maple syrup, shelled water foods, and shelled eggs during the school year. To be eligible for the program, schools must: 

  • Apply to the Department of Agriculture to participate
  • Buy food products from an instate farmer (unless a school buys from an out of state business but the produce was sent by an instate farmer), or if their district borders another state, the farm can be in another state, but that farm must be located within thirty miles of the school district’s border.
  • The Department will require proof of purchase before reimbursement. 
  • The Department will reimburse a school $1, for every $3 spent on local foods. 

IASB registered neutral on the bill because this deals with multiple issues but is supportive of the department helping schools with this program. The bill, as amended, passed the Senate on a 48-0 vote. The bill will go back to the House to concur with the amendment. 

HF 828 – Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Fees: This bill allows the Department of Transportation (DOT) and counties certified to issue CDL’s to charge a $25 dollar fee for acquiring that license. IASB raised concerns over the impact this could have on districts’ ability to find bus drivers and the additional cost districts could incur if they pay the cost for drivers to obtain their CDL. The bill prohibits the DOT and counties from charging fees for bus drivers to obtain their CDL.  

IASB registered neutral on the bill because it does not require new bus drivers to pay those fees to obtain their CDL. The bill passed the Senate on a 48-0 vote after previously passing the House by a vote of 95-1. The bill goes to Governor Reynolds for her consideration.

HF 847 – Education Omnibus: This bill includes multiple policy changes: 

  • Creates a flexible student and school support program to use innovative methods for student learning; 
  • Allows districts to transfer unobligated funds from the TLC program into the districts flexibility account; 
  • Adds work-based learning coordinator as an eligible position for operational sharing incentives; (not included in SF 159) 
  • Adds additional good cause exemptions for making enrollment requests; 
  • Changes the athletic eligibility requirement from 90 school days to 90 calendar days; 
  • Provides up to a $500 tax deduction for expenses incurred by teachers; 
  • Increases the tuition tax credit amount spent for textbooks and other educational expenses for both public and private school students to 25% of the first $2,000; 
  • States that the key responsibility of school board members is to improve student achievement. 
  • A process to reduce the teacher salary supplement fund balances by making payments to teachers 
  • Special education directors are eligible positions for operational sharing incentives. The amendment states positions assigned a five-pupil weighting will be decreased to four; and a position assigned a three-pupil weighting is decreased to two. 

The Senate amended the bill which does the following: 

  • Changes 90-day period for athletic eligibility back to current code to use school days instead of calendar days. 
  • Public schools must administer the pledge of allegiance in grades 1-12 each day.
    • Students and a student’s parents can choose to opt out. 
  • Gives principals the authority, with board approval, to not require face coverings. 
  • Increases school tuition tax credit from 65% to 75%
  • Increases the STO cap to $20 million dollars, from $15 million, beginning January 1, 2022. 
  • Places a limit on the number of charter schools that state board can approve to no more than one elementary, one middle school and one high school per 10,000 public and nonpublic students in grades K-12 in that geographic area. 
  • Subjects the charter school governing board to chapter 22 (open records law) 
  • Requires a charter school administrator be a licensed administrator, licensed teacher, or have a statement of professional recognition by the Board of Educational Examiners (BOEE).
  • Clarifies when the charter school must notify the public school district of residence of a student’s enrollment.
  • Requires the charter to school to submit an annual report to the State Board of Education. 

IASB registered neutral on the bill after the Senate amended the bill to balance the provisions we support with those we oppose. The bill passed the Senate on a 42-6 vote after previously passing the House on a 61-33 vote. The bill goes back to the House for concurrence.

SF 183 – Construction Manager At-Risk: This bill creates a new option for bidding public construction processes called construction manager at-risk. The bill: 

  • Prohibits fee-based selection of an architect, landscape architect, or engineer.
  • Allows a governmental entity (school districts included) to use a guaranteed maximum price for a public improvement contract.
  • Outlines the process for requesting statements of qualifications and requests for proposals. It gives governmental entities specific guidelines on the timeline necessary to complete these steps and where requests should be advertised, and the public process by which the district picks its contractors. 

IASB registered neutral on the bill as it adds more options for districts as they look for different avenues during the construction process but it could be a complicated process. The bill passed the Senate on a 28-19 vote and passed the House State Government committee. 

SF 466 – Concussion Protocol Health Care Providers: This bill adds occupational therapists to the list of providers that can make determinations on brain and concussion injury policies. The current list of providers helps decide when a student should be removed from athletics or returned to an extracurricular activity due to concussion concerns.

IASB registered neutral on the bill as it provides districts flexibility in providing care for students during athletic events. The bill passed the House on a 91-2 vote after previously passing the Senate on a 48-0 vote. Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law on April 30, 2021.

 

SF 480/HF 786 – Public Records Requests: This bill limits any fees that a public body could charge for examination of public records to be “reasonable”. The bill prohibits a public body from assessing a requestor the cost of legal fees for reviewing a records request. The bill was amended in committee to address our opposition to this provision.  The amendment defines a “reasonable” cost as $500 or less. It provides a process for a requestor to appeal costs over this amount to the Iowa Public Information Board and the burden of proof that the cost is unreasonable is on the requestor.  Any legal fees incurred during the appeal process would be borne by the losing entity. Finally, the amendment limits the charge of legal fees to only instances when records must be reviewed and redacted to protect confidential information. 

IASB registered opposed to the original bill because the district would now be responsible for paying legal fees if a document needed redaction. HF 637 passed the House State Government committee. SF 480 passed the Senate State Government committee.  

SF 562 – Sexual Exploitation by Athletic Trainers: This bill adds adults providing training or instruction to a minor into the law regarding sexual exploitation by a counselor, therapist, or school employee. The bill states these individuals added into the law are not employed by the district and are providing training and instruction outside of the school setting. The Senate amended the bill to eliminate the statute of limitations for bringing criminal charges against trainers, teachers or school employees for sexual exploitation of a minor.

IASB registered in support of the bill as it protects students who participate in outside sporting teams or clubs. The Senate passed the bill on a 48-0 vote. The bill goes back to the House to concur with the amendment. 

SF 568 – Election Omnibus: This bill contains one provision impacting school districts and community colleges. That provision was amended on the Senate floor to require the entity requesting the public measure in either the March or September elections to send via mail the notification of the election to each household that includes a registered voter eligible to vote in the election. The notification must include: 

  • Date of the election 
  • Hours the polls will be open 
  • Information on how to find a voter’s polling place, including website and telephone number of the county commissioner of elections as well as website of the state commissioner of elections 

IASB changed its registration to opposed after this amendment was adopted as it will increase the cost of elections for school district and community colleges. The bill was approved by the House State Government committee after previously passing the Senate on a 30-17 vote. 
 

Bills Signed Into Law by Governor Reynolds

SF 130 - Board Member Compensation: This bill allows school board members who earn income as substitutes, food service workers or bus drivers to exceed the $6,000 compensation limit. This provision is only effective for the current school year.

IASB proposed this legislation and is registered in support of the bill because it allows districts to utilize these board members during the pandemic. The bill passed the Senate by a 47-0 vote and passed the House in a 96-0 vote. Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law on March 8, 2021. 

SF 160 – School Instruction Options: This bill requires a district to offer a 100% in-person education instruction option. Parents will have five days after notification by the district to select 100% in person for their child.   Districts maintain the authority to seek a waiver to less than primarily in person instruction and include the number of teachers absent due to Covid-19 as well as shortages of substitutes, food service workers and bus drivers.  Districts must provide 100% in person instruction to those who request it on the first Monday two weeks after enactment (February 15). Districts who do not comply cannot count those days toward their instructional hours.

IASB registered neutral on this bill and worked with legislators to provide districts additional flexibility to obtain a waiver to move to online learning and to extend the compliance deadline. Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law on January 29, 2021.

SF 269 – Supplemental State Aid: This bill sets the supplemental state aid (SSA) rate at 2.4%. The bill includes an additional $10 to close the district cost per pupil gap and provides $800,000 in additional money to buy districts down to statewide average for transportation costs.  

IASB opposed the original Senate bill but changed its registration to neutral with the House amendment. The bill passed the House on a 56-36 vote and passed the Senate on a 31-18 vote. Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law on Feb. 23, 2021.

SF 285 – Eligibility for Iowa Opportunity Program: The bill allows a student participating in the Iowa Opportunity scholarship program to suspend, in addition to deferring participation in the program up to two years if the student meets specific requirements or if a student is fulfilling a military commitment.

IASB registered neutral on the bill as this affects students who have already graduated high school but does allow those within the program flexibility to continue their education. The bill passed out of the Senate on a 48-0 vote and passed the House on a 96-0 vote. Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law on March 8, 2021.

SF 289 – Education Flexibility: This bill updates or eliminates several provisions in law to give school boards and AEAs additional flexibility. These provisions include: 

  • Updates the threshold AEAs must meet to request approval from the Department of Education when entering into a purchase or lease agreement to the competitive bid threshold.
  • Reduces publication requirements AEAs must meet when posting their budget to their website and a newspaper of general circulation.
  • Extends a board presidents term an additional month in even numbered years to help close the prior fiscal years’ books in a timely manner.
  • Eliminates duplicative reporting for districts on dues paid to IASB and a report on community strategies for early literacy. IASB already collects dues information and will report it to the Department of Education.
  • Allows district flexibility to deposit proceeds from a sale of a school building to any account after holding a public hearing.
  • Eliminates requirement boards must publish an additional meeting notice before entering into a loan agreement on equipment purchases as boards already publish their agendas.
  • Eliminates the energy audit report districts submit every five years. 
IASB registered in support of the bill and brought these issues forward after hearing from school boards and AEAs on ways to provide additional flexibility. The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 48-0 and passed the House by a vote of 93-0. Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law on March 22, 2021.

HF 308 – Eligibility Requirements for Concurrent Enrollment: This bill allows a student to qualify for concurrent enrollment classes if they have shown proficiency in reading, math, and science based on assessment scores. Currently, students must meet specific requirements, and this provides an alternative route for students to take these courses. The school district and community college must jointly adopt proficiency measures that students must meet. 

IASB registered in support of the bill because this provides more ways for students to earn college credits based on a student’s overall performance and not based on a specified test. The bill passed the House on a 93-0 vote and had previously passed the Senate by a 48-0 vote. Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law on March 8, 2021.

HF 386  District Reporting Requirements: This bill removes the requirement that districts report expenditures to the Department of Education from any non-profit entity that is associated with the district. Districts are still required to report information to the community.

IASB registered in support of the bill because it eliminates burdensome reporting requirements. The bill passed out of the Senate on a 48-0 vote and the House version had previously passed on a 94-0 vote. The bill goes to Governor Reynolds for her consideration. Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law on March 8, 2021.

HF 756  Firearm Omnibus: This bill allows individuals to carry a firearm without a conceal carry permit. Specifically, the bill allows any person to carry or transport an unloaded firearm onto school grounds if the firearm is in a secured container or securely wrapped package.  

IASB registered opposed to the bill because it takes away the authority of school boards to prohibit guns on school grounds. The bill passed the Senate on a 31-17 vote after previously passing the House on a 60-37 vote. Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law on April 2, 2021.

HF 848 – Broadband Expansion: This bill is the Governor’s broadband expansion bill. The bill provides grants to internet companies that extend broadband service at or above specific upload and download speeds to a targeted service area, including schools. The bill breaks down speeds into three tiers: 

  • Tier 1: maximum download speed of less than 25 megabits per second and maximum upload speed of less than three megabits per second.
  • Tier 2: Minimum download speed of greater than or equal to 25 megabits per second but less than fifty megabits per second.
  • Tier 3: Minimum download speed of greater than or equal to 50 megabits per second but less than eighty megabits per second. 

IASB registered in support of the bill as it will help schools connect with high-speed broadband. The bill passed the Senate on a 47-0 vote after previously passing the House on a 94-0 vote. Governor Reynolds signed the bill into law on April 28, 2021.