Dropout Prevention Toolkit

Dropout prevention and at-risk program funding aims to establish programs that not only keep students in school, but progressing, with the goal of all students completing school. These goals are shared by everyone who serves students; however, there is an inequity in funding among districts that must be addressed to ensure all students are given a fair chance to complete their education. In 2013, the legislature created a per pupil inequity by capping some districts below the 5% maximum cap for dropout prevention funds, which means there are currently 199 districts capped below the 5% maximum. Now is the time to ask your legislators to remove this inequity to provide additional resources for at-risk students.

New Podcast Episode Available!

New Episode of Capitol Chats! We answer all your questions on dropout prevention funding: why there's an inequity in funding, why the funding is so important, what you can accomplish with adequate funding, and how to start advocating.

Talking Points

Equity is our goal in all areas of school finance. All students deserve equitable funding, regardless of which school district they attend, especially those students who may not finish school without the extra services provided by a strong dropout prevention program. Allowing districts to reach the 5% cap is essential to achieving this goal. 

Student needs in the area of dropout prevention have likely increased as a result of the pandemic. We will see more students qualify as at-risk of leaving school, and districts will need additional funds to adequately serve all students.

Districts need additional resources to provide robust dropout prevention programs.
 Successful dropout prevention programs require staff, like counselors and dedicated teachers, as well as classes that connect schoolwork with college and career success. 

Facts & Figures

  • Districts currently below the cap didn’t always have a need for the maximum funds, so as good stewards of taxpayer money, didn’t levy for more than necessary; however, their needs have changed and increasing their levy is warranted.
  • Some highest generating districts receive $369/pupil while the lowest generating districts only receive $181/pupil.
  • This has created a $188/pupil disparity between the highest and lowest districts.
  • On a percentage basis, the district cost per pupil disparity was roughly 2.5% when the legislature began to address that inequity; the dropout prevention disparity is 50%.
  • This past year, the average inequity a school district faces in dropout prevention funds is $129,000.

Tools You Can Use

Map: FY 2022 Dropout Prevention Program Statutory Funding Percentage – By District

Listing: FY 2022 Dropout Prevention Program Funding and Inequity Amount – By District

Dropout Prevention Program Funding: Learn all about dropout prevention funding and your district's use of it. 

Sample Emails to Legislators: Use this template to draft an email to your legislators on the importance of dropout prevention funding. 

Dropout Prevention Funding Review: This informational PowerPoint, presented at IASB's Fiscal Management Conference, provides an overview of dropout/at-risk funding and where the inequity comes from. 

Dropout Prevention Program Supports and Ideas: The Iowa Department of Education provides resources and ideas to create a successful dropout prevention program in your district, based on student outcomes. 

Legislation: During the 2021 legislative session, Sen. Chris Cournoyer introduced a bill to address the inequity in dropout prevention funding. Although SF 271 ultimately did not survive the legislative process, we know there are legislators aware of the issue and willing to help move this issue forward.