The Linn-Mar Community School District Board of Directors is committed to advocating on behalf of the students, staff, and community and takes seriously all debates, policies, and laws that impact the success of Iowa’s public education systems.
The school board has two members on opposite election cycles that work as legislative liaisons. These members provide updates to the board throughout the legislative session, lead discussion on legislative priorities, and work with the superintendent to stay in contact with elected officials on education issues at the state and federal level.
The Linn-Mar school board selected the following priorities to submit to the Iowa Association of School Boards legislative advocacy committee for vote at the delegate assembly in November:
- School Funding Policy
Supports a school foundation formula that:
- Provides sufficient and timely funding to meet education goals;
- Equalizes per-pupil funding for all program areas;
- Equitably funds all area education agencies;
- Provides a funding mechanism for transportation costs that reduces the pressure on the general fund and addresses inequities between school districts;
- Includes factors based on changes in demographics including socio-economic status, remedial programming, and enrollment changes;
- Reflects actual costs for special education services;
- Incorporates categorical funding in the formula within three years; and
- Includes a mix of state aide and property taxes.
Advocacy Fact: School financing has many restrictions and certain funds can only be used on certain expenses. When schools are not funded at rates that keep up with the cost of doing business or inflation, the impact isn’t on facilities or textbooks, as much as it is on staff.
83% of Linn-Mar’s budget is on staff. If the district is underfunded it means fewer staff members, which means larger class sizes. Larger class sizes are shown in studies to lead to less individualized attention and more behavior and academic interventions. Lack of funding also makes providing raises that meet the cost of living difficult, which puts a strain on teachers. Some may choose to leave the profession as the district cannot compete with the for-profit business world’s rate of pay.
- Mental Health
Supports efforts to establish comprehensive community mental health systems to offer preventative and treatment services and comprehensive school mental health programs that include:
- Increased access for in-school and telehealth services;
- Increased access to mental health professionals via in-person or telehealth services;
- Creation of a categorical funding stream designated for mental health professionals serving students and ongoing teacher, administrator, and support staff mental health training;
- Ongoing teacher, administrator, and support staff training to improve the awareness and understanding of children's emotional and mental health needs;
- Integration of suicide prevention and coping skills into existing curriculum;
- Expanding state-funded loan forgiveness programs to include mental health professionals who agree to provide services to schools;
- An ongoing mental health resources clearinghouse for schools and community providers;
- Trainings that include a referral plan for continuing action provided by mental health professionals outside of the school district; and
- School Counselors.
Advocacy Fact: School counselors are trained to be the first line of defense in schools but there are not enough school counselors to address the needs of students. The recommended ratio is 250 students per counselor. The Iowa average is closer to 400-500 per counselor.
- Dropout/At-Risk Prevention
Supports the inclusion of dropout prevention and funding for at-risk students in the foundation formula and the inclusion of socio-economic status as a factor in determining a student's at-risk status. Supports allowing districts to request an additional dropout prevention modified supplemental amount up to the 5% maximum cap. Opposses changes to the compulsory age of attendance unless sufficient funds are provided to implement strategies to retain those students.
Advocacy Fact: Linn-Mar is limited to receiving only 2.5% while many other districts receive the full 5%. There is inequity in the formula and Linn-Mar advocates that all districts be given the full 5% funding cap allowance to meet the needs of students.
- Local Accountability and Decision-Making
Supports providing local school boards with decision-making authority regarding methods to accomplish desired educational outcomes. The Iowa Association of School Boards (IASB) opposes overly restrictive or inefficient limitations which inhibit innovation, efficiency, and the ability of school boards to meet local needs.
Local accountability and decision-making includes:
- Student Achievement: As locally elected officials, schools boards should have the ability to set priorities, customize programming, and maximize community strengths to improve outcomes for all students;
- Accountability & Reporting: Data collection for state accountability should enhance the ability of school boards to focus on student learning and school improvement. IASB supports streamlining state-level reporting on management operations and eliminating duplicative or inefficient reporting processes;
- Funding Flexibility: School boards should have the ability to maximize existing resources to meet local needs;
- Transparency: School boards should have the flexibilty to provide public access to records in ways that promote transparency for citizens while balancing the cost to taxpayers; and
- Flexibility on Health & Safety Emergencies: School boards should have the ability to make decisions in partnership with local health officials regarding the health and safety needs of students, staff, families, and the community.
In addition to the priorities listed above, the school board has identified the following topic as a priority to focus on individually:
Special Education Funding
Supports the federal commitment to fund 40% of the cost of educating students receiving special education services through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The LMCD Board of Directors will advocate for the federal government to modernize and fully fund IDEA by emphasizing improved outcomes for students with disabilities.
Advocacy Fact: While IDEA was passed with the commitment to fund 40% of special education costs, to date the federal government has only ever funded 13%. Each year districts across the country, and the majority of Iowa districts, are faced with a multi-million dollar budget deficit in special education because of the inadequacies of the federal formula.
Board Statements and Advocacy Letters
Throughout the legislative sessions the LMCSD Board of Directors may choose to send letters advocating on certain bills and providing perspective on the impact of proposed legislation. The board may also chose to offer statements addressing topics, events, or important information regarding pending legislation.
Below are recent statements and letters shared by the LMCSD Board of Directors:
- Statement on Equity
- School Funding/Supplemental State Aid Letter
- Teacher Retention Bonus Program Letter
- Statement on School Vouchers Program
State and Federal Representatives
The Linn-Mar Community School District has residents in multiple districts. Currently the following are elected officials representing the Linn-Mar community.
- Iowa House District 67: Representative Eric Gjerde (Email)
- Iowa House District 68: Representative Molly Donahue (Email)
- Iowa House District 95: Representative Charlie McClintock (Email)
- Senate District 34: Representative Senator Liz Mathis (Email)
- Representative Ashley Hinson (Contact)
- Senator Joni Ernst (Contact)
- Senator Charles Grassley (Contact)
Due to the 2020 Census, all districts were redrawn and will take effect for the November 2022 election. Linn-Mar will then be represented in the following districts:
- Iowa House District 73
- Iowa House District 74
- Iowa House District 83
- Iowa Senate District 37
- Iowa Senate District 42
- IASB Advocacy Resources
- Advocacy Fact Sheet (Coming soon)
- Advocacy Email Template (Coming soon)
- School Board Election Information