Iowa Governor Says Raising Teachers’ Pay, Elementary Students’ Literacy Main Focus in 2024

(Radio Iowa) Governor Kim Reynolds says after providing state-funded accounts to cover private school expenses, raising the pay of PUBLIC school teachers will be on her 2024 legislative agenda. Reynolds says she’ll also focus on improving reading scores among public school students in the early grades.

“So that we’re making sure that every student has an opportunity to succeed and be successful, so stay tuned,” Reynolds says. “There’ll be more to come next year. I’m really excited to work on that over the interim.” The average salary for a public school teacher in Iowa is about 10 percent below the national average. Reynolds says lawmakers are giving public schools the authority to divert some already approved state funding to pay teachers more, but as she campaigned around the state for her plan to state help to parents who send their kids to private school, it was clear that pay for public school teachers is an issue.

“As I talked to rural administrators and worked with rural legislators, the two concerns were the…flexibility as well as being able to be competitive for teacher salaries,” Reynolds says. “They weren’t able to pay a lot of times as much as some of the more urban school districts were able to pay.” At the end of the month, low-income parents who enroll a child in a private school this fall will be able to apply for 76 hundred dollars in state money to cover tuition and other private school expenses. Some private schools have announced fall tuition increases, as high as 10 percent in some Catholic schools in the Diocese of Des Moines. Reynolds says that shouldn’t dilute the impact of the program.

“All schools are experiencing increased costs,” Reynolds says. “We’ve had our public schools talk about it, too, and that’s why every year we look at a State Supplemental Aid Payment because we recognize that there are increased costs…The other component of it is that private school teachers were paid considerably less than public school teachers and maybe this will make them be a little bit more competitive.” Reynolds made her comments today (Thursday) during the taping of Iowa Press, which airs Friday night at Iowa P-B-S. Earlier this year, Reynolds approved a three percent increase in general state aid for public schools. House Democratic Leader Jennifer Konfrst says Democrats offered countless ideas during the 2023 legislative session to raise teacher pay and make sure every kid in Iowa gets a good education, but Reynolds and her Republican allies in the legislature turned down every one of them.