PREVIOUS STORY: Branstad, Reynolds talk education reform - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

PREVIOUS STORY: Branstad, Reynolds talk education reform


It's been a week since Governor Terry Branstad delivered his Condition of the State address. Now he and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds are touring the state to share their goals for the year with Iowans and hearing concerns as they do so. Tuesday the two were in Linn County.

One of the top priorities for the Governor and Lieutenant Governor have this year is improving schools. Many educators support the proposed initiatives but fear the funding won't be there to implement them. It's a realistic concern looking at recent reforms in other areas like mental health.

Gary Lindsay is retired teacher. He likes that Governor Branstad and Lieutenant Governor Reynolds are working to improve education but fears it's easier said than done.

"When I was a teacher in Cedar Rapids we had some of the same reforms that they are proposing to go statewide," said Lindsay.  "Those reforms dropped because funding ran out for those programs."

Branstad and Reynolds want to implement a new teacher leadership model and raise teacher salaries.

"We want to keep great teachers in the profession and we want to make sure we're getting the best and brightest into the profession," said Reynolds.

"By focusing on these things that can help us really attract high achievers to teaching, rewarding good teachers and also looking at those things that can motivate students to achieve at the highest level possible, that's how we can restore Iowa's leadership in education," said Branstad.

They're expensive reforms, a $187 million overhaul, but the pair say with current state budget surplus now's the time.

Others would like to see money placed elsewhere. Ann Wood worries about funding for the mental health and developmental disability redesign the legislature passed last year.

"What we're concerned about is it hasn't been fully funded," said Wood, who works for the Iowa Office of Consumer Affairs.   The consumers, the providers aren't being able to get the services out that the people need."

The new system creates regional networks, instead of having each county provide services on its own and is expected to be fully in place in a few years.

"There are some challenges but I think we're going to have a much better service, better service delivery system to meet the needs of the people of the state of Iowa," said Branstad.

Governor Branstad says implementing reforms is never easy, but he hopes to have some of his new goals for the state in place in just a few months. For that to happen, the legislature has to pass the bills.

Branstad and Reynolds also want to see significant property tax reform providing nearly $400 million in property tax relief.

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