Edler, Cahill discuss legislative priorities during school board meeting – Marshalltown Times Republican | Team Cansler


TR PHOTO BY SUSANNA MEYER Sen. Jeff Edler (left) and Rep. Sue Cahill (right) discussed their goals for the upcoming legislative session at Monday night’s regular school board meeting in Marshalltown.

Sen. Jeff Edler (R-State Center) and Rep. Sue Cahill (D-Marshalltown) discussed their goals for the upcoming legislative session along with the Marshalltown Community School District’s legislative priorities during Monday night’s regularly scheduled school board meeting.

Prior to the meeting, Superintendent Theron Schutte forwarded Edler and Cahill to the MCSD a list of the Iowa Association of School Boards’ (IASB) legislative priorities, as well as a more specific list so that she could have a general view of the district’s needs.

Schutte said that when deciding legislative priorities, school districts across the state agreed to prioritize support for public school education and all students, school funding, mental health support for both students and staff, and workforce challenges to grant

Cahill first noted that she is currently in the minority as a Democrat in the House of Representatives. She believes the upcoming meeting will be “interesting” and stresses cross-party teamwork.

“One of my main goals is that I’ll really work on making a lot more friends across the aisle. I think that we all have to work, to be very vigilant in working with our colleagues, regardless of their party, to try to find consensus on areas where we can agree and where we can say: ” That’s good for Iowa kids,’ but I also have a feeling it’s going to be a difficult session for a minority person,” Cahill said.

Cahill said she hasn’t served on any committees yet, but having served on the education and educational assignments committees as well as the veterans and labor committees in recent years, she expects to stay there.

Cahill also spoke about the newly formed Education Reform Committee, formed to address some of the issues on Governor Kim Reynolds’ list of priorities. The committee will be chaired by House Speaker Pat Grassley, but the other four members of the committee have yet to be determined.

“I know from reading the governor’s platform that student vouchers or student scholarships or education savings accounts — they go by a number of names — are a priority for the governor, and I will still remain an advocate of public money to go to public schools,” Cahill said. “(In) public schools we serve every student, we cannot turn anyone away. We have a set curriculum set by the state that we have to follow. We have these set standards, and that’s why I am committed to every Marshalltown student, Marshalltown family, and Marshall County family.”

Cahill said she would work to keep public funds in public schools and strive to prevent them from being diverted to private schools. She shared that she made the choice herself to send her own children to private school, but that was a personal decision and she believes that public money should not be used on a parent’s decision to go to one investing in a private school.

Although Cahill does not support diverting these funds to private schools, she stressed that she also supports school choice. She said parents should make decisions that they believe are in their child’s best interests, but that shouldn’t have to be backed by taxpayers.

In addition to public/private school funding, Cahill also addressed school transparency. She supported parents in knowing what curriculum and programs their children are enrolled in, but she believes “extreme” measures, such as putting cameras in classrooms or requiring all documents provided to students to be posted online, go a step too far. If parents have a complaint, Cahill said, they should first raise it with the class teacher.

Edler spoke about the efforts he’s made over the years to secure funding for school districts across Iowa, and while he said the amounts aren’t always what districts are looking for, he said he’s been aggressive worked to help counties with funding and plan to continue doing so.

“We don’t always agree on some amounts that we get, but I have to speak up for public schools as well as taxpayers and parents. I have a lot of champions to work for so it’s not always what everyone wants when we’re trying to come to consensus and workable numbers, but at least when we say we’re going to deliver, we have we always did,” Edler said.

Following the funding, Edler also addressed mental health, saying they have been working to fill gaps in mental health treatment for the past several years. However, he acknowledged that there are still “a number of gaps” that they are working to bridge. He also spoke about the challenges facing the workforce, saying the reality is that many industries are struggling to find and retain qualified employees. He said in previous legislatures they looked at childcare to bring more parents into the labor market who were unable to work due to childcare difficulties.

Finally, Edler addressed a bill that would allow some of the funding to follow eligible students in private schools. Edler argued that public funds have been going to private institutions through School Tuition Organizations (STOs) and Iowa Tuition Grants for years. STOs are organizations that use tax credits for minority students to attend private schools based on parental choice. Iowa Tuition Grants are more geared toward private college scholarships.

Board member Jan McGinnis was concerned about funneling public money into private schools because she felt it would in some ways legalize segregation. Edler replied that they would not give the money to the schools per se, they would give it back to the parents.

“That doesn’t change my opinion. If all the parents decide to separate because we did then we have basically allowed the separation back and as I don’t think it’s our minority parents who are going to make that decision I think we’re going to be very cautious it has to be,” McGinnis said. “There is a fear of corruption. I’m just, I’m really suspicious. This is public money, I pay taxes, I expect it to go to public services, I don’t expect my tax money to be diverted to private sector.”

Edler replied, saying that giving children the opportunity to receive a quality education has always been most important to him.

“I worked very hard for public education. I’ve really kept every flatline bias away except that I want to make sure every child has a chance and every parent has the available opportunity to help their child succeed, and to me it doesn’t necessarily matter , which avenue,” said Edler. “Most of the people I’ve seen don’t want public money. Achieving this are some of the low-income people who can’t afford private schools or don’t get the help of the STOs. At least that’s the bill I voted on a year ago.

Still unconvinced, McGinnis maintained her opposition to the bill.

“I think that’s how it’s sold. I’m not sure how it’s going to work,” McGinnis said.

Aside from that bill, Edler nonetheless voiced his support for public education and said he will continue to work with Iowa Superintendents to provide young Iowans with the best education possible. Edler and Cahill also briefly discussed teachers’ salaries and other ways to address staffing shortages during the discussion with the board.

In other business, the Board has:

• Recognized community mental health providers for their efforts in the past few weeks following the tragic death of four Marshalltown teenagers in a fatal car accident.

• Conducted a public hearing on the Arnold Park lease without community comment and approved an updated 10-year lease with the City of Marshalltown.

• Approved the sale of the MCSD’s 1998 Ford Ranger and purchase of two new vehicles for $71,252.

• Sean Heitmann re-elected as CEO and Sarah Faltys as vice president.

• Approved the School Budget Review Committee (SBRC) application for $2,341.08 for special education administration expenses related to the River Hills Consortium program.

• Approved the Treasurer’s accounts as presented.

• Heard a presentation from Marshalltown Learning Academy, the Teen Outreach Program, an update on the arts curriculum and an update from the Student School Board representatives.

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Contact Susanna Meyer

at 641-753-6611 or

smeyer@timesrepublican.com.



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