Price Lab supporters take their case to lawmakers - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Price Lab supporters take their case to lawmakers


The fall-out continues over planned cuts at the University of Northern Iowa.  Price Lab School, run by the university and a training ground for student teachers, is on the chopping block. 

Last week, UNI president Ben Allen recommended closing the school.  The move would require approval by the Board of Regents.  They meet Monday.  But it would also have to be approved by state lawmakers.  Sunday night, area legislators heard from dozens wanting to save the school.

"We're here to fight," one supporter said.

That message rang loud and clear Sunday, as lawmakers listened to concerns about the planned closure of Price Lab School in Cedar Falls.  Five area legislators echoed audience concerns about the lack of input UNI took deciding where to make cuts.  But they feel the university's drastic proposals will help drive home the need for more higher education funding to the entire state legislature.

"Enough is enough. We have made ourselves more efficient. But when it starts to affect the services of education that people care about - we want those investments to be made," said Sen. Jeff Danielson, (D) Cedar Falls.

After all, the proposed cuts could strip away a key part of UNI's mission in providing hands-on teacher training.  Each year, UNI trains some 1300 teachers.  If it closes, supporters feel there's potential for wide-ranging damage—from recruiting less students into the education program without the lab school, to deploying fewer skilled, highly trained teachers to schools across the region.

"Yes I'm a parent at Price Lab.  BUt I'm also a citizen that wants good teachers in our entire community," said Bobbi Laipple.

Price Lab students and alumni say they've benefited from the school's dynamic of professionals and student teachers.

"I was able to come away with taking dual enrollment classes, experience what it was like to have a student teacher in a practicum, and get an education from some of the best educators and curriculum writers in the nation," said Heather Fremont, NU High alum.

While the Board of Regents may decide to shut down Price Lab during its meeting Monday, local lawmakers insist the buck stops with them, as they'll push to keep the school fully funded.

Some local lawmakers insist the state has plenty of money to keep price lab afloat and to limit the severity of cuts at UNI since there's currently more than a $980 million surplus.  One representative did remind the audience, however, that state law requires at least $600 million of that to stay in the ‘rainy day' fund.  To that, many shouted, "Well right now, it's pouring."

Monday and Tuesday, some UNI faculty members plan to protests the planned budget reductions with a minute of silence in the classroom.


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