The future of funding for public education, particulary how it impacts Vinton-Shellsburg and other area schools, was the topic of a forum on Monday in the Tilford auditorium.

Speakers included superintendent Mary Jo Hainstock of Vinton-Shellsburg, along with Benton Community Superintendent Gary Zittergruen. Other participants were State Senator Bob Dvorsky and Representative Mary Mascher, both Democrats who represent the Johnson and Iowa County area. Mike Owen of the Iowa Policy Project and Sue Thomas, pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church, along with Sheila Hansen of the Child and Family Policy center also paricipated.

Hainstock spoke first about the funding issue.

“School finance: Something I am rather passionate about,” said Hainstock. “In general, for every student we serve, the district receives about $7,000 for for that student for general expenditures.”

About half of that amount comes from state funding; the other half from property taxes, said Hainstock.

Senator Dvorsky t0ld the audience that Iowa school boards are limited in their spending ability by the decisions of the State Legislature. He said people often “pound on” school board members because of funding issues, when they should instead be directing their comments to legislators.

Owen said “there is a real drive to squeeze our public sector; public jobs, public services.”

This he says, also applies to schools.

Allowable growth for schools has been held to less than 2 percent per year for the past eight years, Owen added, an amount that he says does not allow schools to keep up with costs that exceed 2 percent.

See the complete forum in two parts by clicking the links below

Part 1

Part 2