The Linn-Mar Community School District Board of Directors is committed to advocating on behalf of the students, staff, and community and takes all debates, policies, and laws that impact the success of Iowa’s public education systems seriously.
The board has two members that serve 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.
Legislative Priorities 2023-24
The Linn-Mar Board of Directors selected the following priorities to submit to the Iowa Association of School Boards Legislative Advocacy Committee for vote at the IASB delegate assembly in November:
- School Funding Policy
Provides students with the programs and services needed to be successful and support policies on public school funding that:
- Sufficiently supports the ability of local districts to meet parent and community expectations and provides a world class education to all students;
- Equalize per-pupil funding for all program areas;
- Equitably funds all Area Education Agencies (AEAs);
- Maintain the funding mechanism for transportation costs that reduces the pressure on the general fund and addresses inequities between school districts;
- Include factors based on changes in demographics, including socio-economic status, remedial programming, and enrollment challenges;
- Reflect actual costs for special education services;
- Support flexibility in the use of voter and board-approved special levy funds;
- Incorporate categorical funding in the formula within three years;
- Include a mix of state aid and property taxes; and
- Increase the budget guarantee to 103% to provide additional stability to support student achievement for districts with declining enrollment.
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.
80% of Linn-Mar’s budget (general fund) is 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. Underfunding also makes providing raises that meet the cost of living difficult, which puts a strain on teachers and staff. 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:
- Increase access to in-school and telehealth services;
- Increase access to mental health professionals via in-person or telehealth visits;
- Improve awareness and understanding of child emotion and mental health needs through ongoing teacher, school counselor, administrator, and support staff training;
- Integrate suicide prevention and coping skills into existing curriculum;
- Support the mental health needs of educators and staff;
- Provide a comprehensive mental health resources clearinghouse for schools and community providers;
- Expand training that includes a referral plan for continuing action provided by mental health professionals outside of the school district;
- Designate a categorical funding stream for mental health professionals serving students and ongoing teacher, school counselor, administrator, and support staff mental health training;
- Support development of mental health workforce to provide services to children; and
- Opposing policies with detrimental effects to marginalized populations mental health.
Advocacy Fact: School counselors are already on staff and trained in the area of mental health, but there are not enough school counselors to address the needs of all students. The recommended ratio is 250 students per counselor. The Iowa average is closer to 400-500 per counselor.
- Dropout/At-Risk Prevention
Strives to provide every student with the services they need to remain in school, progress, and graduate to become productive citizens. We support state policies that:
- Include dropout prevention and funding for at-risk students in the foundation formula and the socio-economic status as a factor in determining a student's at-risk status; and
- Equalize the ability of all districts to generate dropout prevention funds.
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, school 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 flexibility to provide public access to records in ways that promote transparency for citizens while balancing the cost to taxpayers; and
- Flexibility on Health & Safety Measures: School boards should have the ability to make decisions, in partnership with local officials, regarding the health and safety needs of students, staff, families, and the community.
In addition to the priorities listed above, the Linn-Mar Board of Directors identified the following topic as a priority to focus on individually:
Teacher Recruitment and Licensure
A highly skilled teacher workforce is essential to student achievement and can be supported by state policies that:
- Ensure high-quality teacher preparation programs, including alternative licensure programs for individuals with non-traditional or international education backgrounds;
- Provide research-based pedagogy training in addition to content knowledge in a curricular area;
- Encourage initiatives and programs that diversify Iowa's teaching profession to better match our student demographic makeup;
- Expand programs such as Teach Iowa Scholar, Teacher Intern Program, and others as approved by the Board of Educational Examiners;
- Create programs for student teaching grants and stipends and expand teacher apprenticeship programs to make education careers a more attractive and affordable option;
- Use the management fund to offer recruitment incentives to attract high-quality teachers; and
- Create reciprocity agreements with other states that have high-quality teacher preparation programs to increase diversity among certified teachers and administrators.
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 choose 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 during the 2022-23 school year:
- 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 school districts. Currently, the following are the elected officials representing the Linn-Mar community:
- Iowa Senate District 37: Molly Donahue
- Iowa Senate District 39: Liz Bennett
- Iowa Senate District 40: Todd E. Taylor
- Iowa Senate District 42: Charlie McClintock
- Iowa House District 73: Elizabeth Wilson
- Iowa House District 74: Eric J. Gjerde
- Iowa House District 78: Sami Scheetz
- Iowa House District 80: Art Staed
- Iowa House District 83: Cindy Golding
- Representative Ashley Hinson (Contact)
- Senator Joni Ernst (Contact)
- Senator Charles E. Grassley (Contact)
- Linn-Mar Legislative Priorities for 2023-24
- IASB Advocacy Resources
- Linn County School Board Election Information