Mike pelham, school board meeting

Clinton School Board member Mike Pelham listens to a presentation Monday. Pelham and four other board members voted to send a resolution denouncing Senate File 159 to legislators. Board members Ann Reed and Missey Sullivan Pope were absent from Monday’s school board meeting.

CLINTON — The Clinton school board voted Monday to issue a resolution opposing Senate File 159, commonly known as the school voucher bill.

The 5-0 vote was unanimous; board directors Ann Reed and Missey Sullivan Pope were absent. The board will send the resolution to state legislators.

SF 159 would, among other things, establish a student first scholarship program for certain students in nonpublic schools, modify and establish charter school programs, modify the state’s open enrollment law and modify the tuition and textbook tax credit.

The bill passed the Senate 26-21 in January and is in the House Education Committee.

The resolution passed by the Clinton School Board says the Iowa Legislature should continue to fully invest taxpayer resources in Iowa’s public schools, which are barred by law from discriminating against any students and which are held to standards set by federal and state government.

Private schools don’t have to meet requirements that public schools have to meet, said Clinton School District Superintendent Gary DeLacy. Any school that receives tax money should have to follow the same rules, he said Monday.

Public schools must adhere to strict state testing requirements and ensure equitable access and outcomes for each learner regardless of income, race, religion, nationality, sexual orientation or disability, the resolution says. Nonpublic schools are not held to the same standards.

Iowa taxpayers deserve to know how public funds are used, the resolution says. School choice already exists in Iowa in the form of open enrollment, and school tuition organization scholarships are available for families below 400% of the federal poverty level, it says.

“Iowa public schools provide a strong education experience for all students, the overwhelming majority of students attend public schools in Iowa, and families choose to remain in Iowa due to quality public school systems,” the resolution says. “We denounce any attempt to divert public funds from chronically underfunded, highly accountable public schools to private institutions that lack accountability and are not subject to rigorous academic scrutiny including participation in and reporting of student performance on the Iowa tests...,” the resolution says.

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