Published: January 6, 2005
For a long time, Iowa was one of the few states where lawsuits challenging the school finance systems had never been filed. But in 2002, a group of 160 school districts filed Coalition for a Common Cents Solution v. State claiming that Iowa’s school finance system violates the state constitution on both adequacy and equity grounds. In 2004, the lawsuit was withdrawn without ever proceeding to court. Iowa pays for education through a foundation formula based on the number of students in each district multiplied by a district cost per pupil. The amount of state aid each district receives is based on the difference between the foundation amount per pupil ($4,148 in fiscal 2005) and the foundation property tax. The latter is a local tax of $5.40 per $1,000 of taxable valuation that is required of all districts. Even if a district with high property values is able to raise the foundation-base amount through local revenue, the district still receives $300 per pupil. Iowa uses a weighted student enrollment to provide additional funds for certain students and incentives to districts. Weights are included for special education students, English-language learners, at-risk students (those eligible for free or reduced-price meals), districts that share teachers or students, reorganized districts, and regional academies.
Vol. 24, Issue 17, Page 65