As the snow begins to thaw this month, we know that some critical education legislative votes are around the corner. Gov. Branstad's proposed budget recommends several state funding cuts, including up to $20 million for AEAs across the state, this year and each following year. The House of Representatives have a similar cut but at a $10 million level. These proposals could negatively affect the services that Iowa’s Area Education Agencies (AEAs) provide to our state’s children.

Most of the funds the AEAs receive from the state of Iowa are for special education services but they also receive funding for Teacher Quality and core staff development. If the proposed cuts were made, it would impact the services that are the most requested by Iowa’s public and private schools. And as you know, AEA services are offered in an economical way that most school districts could not provide on their own.

Iowa’s AEA system was established over 35 years ago, and it has become a national leader in providing regional, intermediate educational services. The Iowa system has remained the most comprehensive and highly respected in the country even through mergers. Iowa’s 15 AEAs from 1975 voluntarily merged through the years into nine today so they could be more efficient and ultimately provide more services to children and educators. (Click on the link above to view the dozens of statewide initiatives created by Iowa's AEAs.)

AEA employees across Iowa are very dedicated and knowledgeable professionals who give of themselves to help all children. If either of these budget proposals pass as they are currently written, children with special needs will suffer the most consequences.

As educational professionals in your school district, we are requesting your assistance. We urge you to contact your legislators to tell them your story. Personal accounts will have a far greater impact on their decision whether or not to support cutting funding to the AEAs. To find your legislator, go to the Iowa Legislature’s website at http://www.legis.iowa.gov/Legislators/find.aspx or see a listing of legislators from northwest Iowa here.

Thank you for doing your part to protect students and for taking time to catch up on news, professional opportunities and tips from other educators in your area. Tune into your favorite blogs here and share your thoughts with us so that we can help one another in our mission of learning:

For a complete listing of all blogs, please go to the Northwest AEA website. You can also sign up for an RSS feed to automatically receive blog updates (instructions provided).

Best regards,

Tim Grieves, Chief Administrator