A “time out” during House debate of $$$ for schools

There was a sort of “time out” during Iowa House debate of a bill that would freeze general state aid to public K-12 schools after one legislator questioned the veracity of another.

Representative Royd Chambers (R-Sheldon) read a letter he received from a superintendent in his area.  “Since we like to read emails from superintendents on one side of the issue, let me read you one that comes from the other side of the issue, from one of my superintendets. He says, concerning allowable growth, ‘Schools can and should take a freeze this year. We’re in the best shape of any state-funded program. Every public school in the state got an extra boon this year from the federal education jobs money. With budgets already set, most schools squirreled it away in anticipation of a possible freeze in allowable growth for the next year and if, necessary, we can weather a freeze next year as well.’ So, ladies and gentlemen, maybe the issue is not about the amount of allowable growth, but the fact that we have some superintendents out there that obviously aren’t managing their budgets very well.” 

Several minutes later, Representative Mary Mascher, a Democrat from Iowa City who is a teacher, questioned that letter when she was recognized to speak a second time on the issue.  “It’s amazing to me when I listen to this discussion that ‘this is adequate; it’s o.kay’ — none of the school administrators, none of the school boards, none of the teachers have said that.  Representative Chambers, give us the name of the individual you’re talking about.  Send it out to us, because I want to talk to him, too.  It’s hard for me to believe anybody would say zero percent is fine, is adequate, will be o.kay.  I can’t imagine that.  I’d like to see their name.”

Representative Gary Worthan (R-Storm Lake) yelled “point of order” and said into his microphone:  ‘The honor and integrity of Representative Chambers is being challenged.”

Worthan, Mascher and a bunch of other legislators went down to the central desk in the House where the presiding officer sits and there was a long discussion.

After that “time out” ended, Worthan was recognized to speak by a very stern sounding House Speaker Kraig Paulsen.

“I have the same email from the same superintendent as Royd Chambers and I will verify everything that is in that email,” Worthan said. “I will also tell you that this particular superintendent is from a small, rural district with declining enrollment. He is probably also one of the most progressive, most innovative superintendents in the state of Iowa at this point in time and he told us that they can survive, they set themselves up to be prepared for zero percent allowable growth, so for whatever it’s worth I’m still not going to give his name for the simple reason of the fury that may be brought down on him by his colleagues or others so he will remain anonymous, but I will verify everything that Representative Chambers stated.”

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.