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Bill looks to expand school choice in Iowa; educators in Council Bluffs aren't happy about it

Gov. Kim Reynolds is looking to expand school choice in the Hawkeye State
Posted at 6:26 PM, Jan 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-28 21:57:51-05

The Senate is voting on a bill with measures like establishing a scholarship program for students attending nonpublic schools, establishing charter school programs and stopping restrictions on enrolling in different public schools. Council Bluffs education professionals are reacting to the legislation.

COUNCIL BLUFFS, Ia. (KMTV) - Council Bluffs educators are unhappy at the legislation Gov. Kim Reynolds is promoting. It's a concept Superintendent Eric Knost is struggling to understand.

"Usually these are lower socioeconomic schools that need more support and more funding, not money going out their door," Knost said.

House Rep. Brent Siegrist sees both sides of the issue. Siegrist taught public school and sent his children to private school.

"The push came from some frustration throughout this pandemic particularly with some school districts included, our largest school district Des Moines, that literally hasn't offered, little if any in-person learning," Siegrist said.

Siegrist said there have always been legislators and citizens who believe families should have tuition vouchers and educational savings accounts.

"You're paying into a system and if you are sending your kid to private school, you're paying for the public school and you're also paying the private school side and they think it's an equity issue but it's a choice," Siegrist said.

Still, Council Bluffs School Board President Chris LaFerla believes the legislation is unfairly critical of public schools.

"They've gone through decades of unfunded mandates from state and federal governments and years of insufficient funding to do all of the things they are required by law to do and frankly public schools are doing all of those things very well," LaFerla said.

UPDATE 1/28/2021 8:45 p.m.
On Thursday night the Iowa Senate voted 26 to 21 in favor of the bill. It will now go to the Iowa House of Representatives for a vote.