Out of time, and without a budget, schools make layoffs - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Out of time, and without a budget, schools make layoffs

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Deadlock in Des Moines is putting eastern Iowa schools in a bind.

State lawmakers have spent weeks battling over the yearly education budget, and Thursday the deadline came and went with no deal.

This forced schools, left in limbo for too long, to make hard choices – including staff layoffs.

“It's just frustrating, it angers people,” said Barb Jones, the mother of three children in the Independence school district.

The Republican-controlled House has been pushing for a 1.25 percent increase to the education budget, while the Democrat Senate wants 4 percent.

Neither side will compromise, though by Iowa law, the bodies are required to pass the agreement within 30 days of Governor Branstad's budget announcement.

At Independence, officials couldn't say how many pink slips were issued, but it's clear some were sent.

Jones worried this would hurt students.

“To quote Whitney Houston, 'The children are our future,''' she said. “You have to take care of them first.”

Teachers in the district weren't too excited either. Dan Putz is a longtime English teacher and speech coach at Indee.

“So the teachers here are, I'll say, a little nervous,” he said. “'Am I going to have a job or not have job?' Will class sizes be larger?'”

Putz, who is active in the teachers' union, said young teachers are often first to go when pink slips are handed out.

Experts in the field have also previously told KWWL that when young teachers are laid-off, even with the promise of a possible re-hire, they're forced to look for new work, and can be lost by the district.

Putz said the lawmakers' lack of action is unacceptable.

“If I ran my classroom the way they're doing their business, I'd be fired,” Putz said. “That's what I think should happen to them.”

Jones felt similarly.

“They're acting like children,” she said. “But not my children, because my children would never act like this. And if they did, they'd get a time-out.”

But time is just what some feel they need.

Putz said, in his personal opinion, the school could live with a cut budget – they just need to know what it is.

“Then we can negotiate where we want those cuts to be,” he said. “But at this point, no one knows.”

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