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Superintendents: schools would use windfall to pay teachers

Monday, February 6, 2006

A survey of Iowa school superintendents shows additional state money would be used to increase teacher pay and enhance programs for student achievement, Democratic lawmakers said Wednesday.

Another high priority for school officials was finding money to pay for soaring energy costs, the survey said.

"We still have energy costs," said Rep. John Whitaker, D-Hillsboro. "Natural gas and electricity have really hurt them this year."

The pressure is especially hard on rural schools which have students scattered over miles of sparsely populated area who must be brought to school.

"That's a doubling of costs, just getting kids to and from school," said Rep. Michael Reasoner, D-Creston.

Superintendents from 243 of the state's 365 school districts responded, with 84 percent saying they would use new state funding to increase teacher salaries, and 80 percent saying they would expand student achievement programs.

Another 75 percent said more money is needed to help pay increasing energy costs.

"Three of the top four priorities of Iowa superintendents are focused on measures that will improve classroom learning," Whitaker said.

In the survey, 63 percent of the superintendents responding said they've been forced to increase class size because of funding pressure, while 61 percent said they've laid off teachers.

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