Iowa House Moving Forward with Parts of Gov Reynolds Education Plan

DES MOINES, Iowa - The Iowa House is moving forward with two parts of Governor Kim Reynolds' education plan Wednesday.

A committee will look at bills to help create new charter schools and let some public-school students attend private schools.

The bills must pass out of the committee by Friday or they'll be discarded.

The Iowa Senate has already passed Governor Reynolds entire school choice package that she unveiled in January.

The bill to establish a new charter schools lets charter schools form either inside or outside an existing school district. Its backers say the measure is meant to improve the quality of education.

The bill to let public school students attend private schools would establish a scholarship program. That program would allow students in schools that don't meet federal standards to transfer to private schools using taxpayer money to pay tuition.

Students in 34 schools in 19 Iowa school districts would qualify for the program. A total of around 10,240 students in the state would be eligible. An analysis by the Legislative Services Agency says about 3.5 percent of those students would use the scholarships.

The five state school districts that have diversity programs would not be able to deny students from transferring out of their districts to take part in the scholarship program. Of those districts, Des Moines is estimated to lose $1.4 million in per student funding under the program.

Governor Reynolds overall education plan has the backing of her fellow Republicans in the legislature, although some have expressed concern over using public money to support private schools.

Democrats are largely opposed to the governor's proposal, contending that education funding should be used to support and improve the existing public school system.