DES MOINES, Iowa - Republicans in the Iowa State Legislature are advancing education bills favored by Governor Km Reynolds.
The Senate Education Committee has passed one bill to require school to offer a full-time in-person learning option during the pandemic, and another bill allowing public money to be used for private schools.
Both bills now go the to the Senate floor after strong Democratic opposition.
Reynolds showcased both measures during her Condition of the State speech this month.
The bill to require school districts to offer an option for 100 percent in-person classes (SSB 1064) would be in effect for the remainder of the school year from February through June. Districts could continue to provide a hybrid combination of online and in-person learning, as long as the fulltime in-person option is offered.
The measure to send public money to private schools (SSB 1065) would establish an education scholarship program allowing families in districts identified by the state as needing improvement to use public funds to pay for private schooling.
Currently, 34 public schools would qualify to have their funding redirected toward the scholarship program. The governor's office estimates the program would cost $3 million while the state's largest teachers union contends it could cost around $50 million if all eligible students took part.
The school choice bill would also expand the ability to establish charter schools. It would go into effect in July of 2022.