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### First Public Hearing for New AEA Reform Bill Conducted by House Education Committee

The Iowa House of Representatives in DES MOINES, Iowa, introduced a new reform bill for Area Education Agencies (AEAs) following the shelving of a proposal by Gov. Kim Reynolds.

The key distinction lies in the timeline, with House Republicans pushing the implementation of reforms to the 2025-2026 school year, whereas Reynolds’ bill aimed to kickstart changes in the 2024 school year.

During a public hearing on Wednesday, the House Education Committee listened to feedback on the latest reform bill.

Vickie Murillo, superintendent of the Council Bluffs School District, expressed concerns about the lack of input in how funds are allocated to AEAs, stating, “For the past seven years, I have watched millions of dollars flow through from our districts demographic, directly to our AEA without having a voice for how those dollars would be used to support the needs of our district.”

Advocates, including Esther Huston, a parent, highlighted the positive impact AEAs have had on their children, opposing any changes. Esther mentioned, “AEA has immensely helped my son and my daughter, and the idea of them not being there frightens me. Why are we trying to fix something that’s not broken?”

Both Reynolds’ and House Republicans’ proposals aim to introduce oversight of AEAs by the Department of Education, a contentious aspect of the legislation.

Mike McGrory, superintendent of the Ottumwa Community School District, supported the reform, emphasizing the importance of school districts being active partners in decision-making processes, stating, “Our school districts should be equal partners in determining what our schools and students need and whether or not things are working or need to adapt. It’s time for reform.”

Opponents of the bill raised concerns about districts’ preparedness to handle complex issues without AEAs. Stacey Warren, a social worker at Heartland AEA, recounted various challenging situations she responded to, underscoring the critical role of AEAs in such instances.

House Republicans’ bill is set for debate in the House, while Reynolds’ bill is slated for discussion in the Senate. Both bills must navigate through the legislative process in both chambers to be enacted into law.

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