On November 29, the Forest City School District, in collaboration with the Garner-Hayfield-Ventura, North Iowa, and Lake Mills School Districts, hosted a legislative forum.

We invited local legislators to hear our collective school district legislative priorities as they head into the 2018 session.

I would like to thank our legislators Tedd Gassman, Sharon Steckman, Jane Bloomingdale, Terry Baxter and Dennis Guth for attending and providing their insight on education initiatives.

I would also like to thank members of our respective school boards and members of the community for attending and advocating on behalf of our districts.

We also appreciate KIOW broadcasting the forum.

The priorities discussed included - transportation funding, foundation formula equalization, sharing of incentives and assistance between school districts, state penny tax (SAVE), standards and accountability progress, supplemental state aid and teacher leadership and development initiatives.

Additional information about each of these priorities deemed critical to the school district can be found at www.forestcity.k12.ia.us.

I would like to take one of the initiatives, SAVE (Secure an Advanced Vision for Education), and discuss its importance to our district.

This funding stream is formerly known as the statewide school infrastructure sales and service tax and also known as local option sales and services tax for school infrastructure, the “State Penny” or “One Cent” Sales Tax.

This tax has helped schools address the problem of equity and adequacy for school facilities.

Here’s a question for you. How old are our school buildings?

Our elementary school was built in 1984. The original middle school/high school was built in 1960 and an addition took place in 1975.

So, the answer is that our elementary school is 33 years old and our middle school/high school (with the addition) is 42 years old.

I can’t go on without recognizing the phenomenal job of our maintenance staff.

For our district, past uses from this fund include roof replacements, tuck pointing, new school building entryways, the new elementary drop off/pick up area and the Hanson Family Fine Arts Center.

Recently, our district invested in a facilities assessment to guide our board in planning infrastructure improvements well into the future.

With regard to SAVE, we are advocating for and support eliminating the sunset permanently (currently set to expire in 2029), which will allow districts to maintain facilities and technology without needlessly addressing increasing property taxes.

Future state penny revenues should remain dedicated to school and property tax equity/relief.

If SAVE disappears, deferred maintenance will catch up and money for school infrastructure improvements will have to come from other funds including the general fund.

Again, more information about this initiative and the others can be found on our web site.

I encourage you to get informed/get involved.

Our legislators need to hear from as many people as possible so that they can advocate for education on our behalf.

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