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**House Republicans Advance Legislation to Revamp Iowa Area Education Agencies**

Iowa House Republicans have advanced their iteration of a bill aimed at reforming Iowa’s Area Education Agencies (AEAs).

The bill successfully cleared the House floor with a vote of 52 to 41, while seven state representatives abstained from voting. Interestingly, some Republicans sided with Democrats in opposition to the bill.

Under this proposed legislation, districts would be mandated to utilize AEAs for special education services, while retaining the flexibility to engage other entities for media and general education services. Consequently, funds would be redirected to the school districts for allocation, as opposed to being channeled directly to the AEAs.

In the course of the floor debate held on Thursday, numerous Democrats contended that the bill is unnecessary, advocating for a more deliberate approach to the decision-making process.

State Representative Sharon Steckman (D-Mason City) remarked, “There is no reason for the rest of the bill. The task force will do it for us. Then, the next year we can make an intelligent decision instead of a rushed one.”

Managing the bill is State Representative Skyler Wheeler, who emphasized that the proposal was formulated in consultation with stakeholders, including extensive discussions with AEAs and superintendents.

Rep. Wheeler’s amendment, which was approved, extends the timeline for implementing changes gradually, reintroduces operational sharing, and reduces the number of Department of Education staff.

“Everybody agreed that there were areas to improve and that we could make changes. This bill does not cut a single AEA job. This bill does not change anything with special education. It does not dismantle the AEA system,” affirmed State Rep. Skyler Wheeler (R-Orange City).

Rep. Wheeler notably discarded the governor’s initial plan, which sought to revamp Iowa’s AEAs.

Following the House’s endorsement of their version, Governor Reynolds expressed anticipation for further dialogues on the legislation.