Iowa City closing an elementary school, blames underfunding from state

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds reacts after signing a bill that creates education savings accounts, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, at the Statehouse in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

By Amie Rivers

March 27, 2024

Hills Elementary School will close next school year after nearly 60 years of educating students, and members of the Iowa City School Board cite inadequate state funding as one of the reasons why.

“It is the result of chronic and persistent underfunding by the state that has been going on for the past decade,” school board member Lisa Williams said during Tuesday’s meeting. “It is a direct result of the governor and legislature’s decision to take your tax dollars and divert them away from public schools.”

The move to close Hills, which is south of Iowa City, will save the district around $1.66 million, according to the Cedar Rapids Gazette. But that’s not even a quarter of the $7.5 million the district needs to trim from their budget in the next two years to break even.

According to the March 5 packet from the district’s financial oversight meeting, the board directly blamed Gov. Kim Reynolds’ private school voucher program—called the Students First Education Savings Accounts—as one of the reasons.

“If the [school district] had our share of the state’s $350 million dollar voucher program that would mean $10 million more dollars in our District’s budget,” the packet notes.

Iowa Republicans in the legislature’s decisions to give millions in taxpayer money for private school scholarships and chronically underfund public schools has resulted in big budget cuts and layoffs.

Now, an entire school is being shuttered because of those decisions. The 126 students enrolled in Hills will be bussed to another school instead.

  • Amie Rivers

    Amie Rivers is Starting Line's community editor, labor reporter and newsletter snarker-in-chief. Previously, she was an award-winning journalist at the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier; now, she very much enjoys making TikToks and memes. Send all story tips and pet photos to [email protected] and sign up for our newsletter here.


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