Iowa lawmakers hammer out details for education reform - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Iowa lawmakers talk education reform while schools struggle to plan for future

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

Iowa lawmakers continue hashing out details for an education reform they hope will change the face of schools in the state.

Legislators in the Iowa House and Senate have passed two different education reform bills.

Because of that, some of those lawmakers have to iron out a compromise in a "Conference Committee."

The debate continues causing stress for area schools, especially when it comes to state funding and teacher contracts as school officials are left struggling to balance budgets with so many unknown factors.

"People are being asked to cut and trim, but yet then change and reform, and the two just don't go together," said Superintendent for Waterloo Community School District Gary Norris.

Norris said a handful of Waterloo schools, as well as multiple schools across the state, are classified as "Schools in Need of Assistance (SINA)" if they don't meet federal guidelines set by the No Child Left Behind education law.

Before being classified as a SINA, schools are given an opportunity to improve academic standards and they are placed on a watch list.

Kingsley Elementary is one of many schools on the state's watch list.

Norris said approximately 440 students attend, but the building is designed to hold 350-380.

The high enrollment and unknown details of a potential education reform makes planning for the future tough.

"We're not whining or complaining," he said. "We're up to the challenge, but it still makes reform very difficult."

While state lawmakers hammer out a deal that could impact teacher salaries, implement teacher leadership programs and implement funding for allowable growth, Norris said he's optimistic.

"We need to get this done for our kids," he said.

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