Business leaders urge Des Moines schools to comply with state

(Des Moines, IA) -- Local business leaders are now pressuring the Des Moines School District to comply with Iowa's Return To Learn Law. The Greater Des Moines Partnership's Executive Committee has approved a resolution calling on Des Moines to comply with the state's law which requires districts to have at least 50-percent in-person instruction, amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The resolution states the district's actions have created work-force and equity issues for families.

The district's latest plan calls for in-person classes starting next month, but high school students don't return until November. The district is the only district in the state that has failed to meet the state's requirements.

“Talent development is critical for our region’s continued success. It is imperative that we do everything we can to prepare students to be part of our entire region’s future workforce,” said Tom Mahoney, Chairman of the Board at ITA Group Holdings and 2020 Board Chair of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. “Education knows no boundaries, and ensuring a safe and successful return to learn strategy for Des Moines Public Schools will ensure the students of Des Moines Public Schools do not fall behind other districts that have also had to quickly innovate and pivot.” 

“This affects employers throughout the region as many of their employees are parents who are working to provide for their families and make sure their children are receiving a quality education,” said Fred Buie, President of Keystone Electrical Manufacturing Company and Vice Board Chair of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. “The health, safety and well-being of employees is critically important to DSM employers and the community as a whole.” 

“This is a short-term and long-term workforce issue, as well as an equity issue,” said Kathryn Kunert, Vice President of Economic Connections and Integration at MidAmerican Energy Company and Past Board Chair of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. “Children in Des Moines Public Schools deserve the same access to education as other students are receiving, and opening up schools in compliance with state law will alleviate some of the strain on families in the district that are juggling jobs and childcare during the pandemic.”

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