Skip to Content

**Rep. Best Endorses House AEA Reform, Ensuring Preservation of Special Education Services**

The reform of the Area Education Agency (AEA) in Iowa was approved by the Iowa House of Representatives with a 53-41 vote on Thursday. This approval marks a significant divergence from Governor Kim Reynolds’ proposed changes at the onset of the 2024 Legislative Session. Governor Reynolds’ original proposal aimed to streamline AEA services primarily linked to special education funding and grant more autonomy to districts in the allocation of state and federal funds. Representative Brian Best from Glidden, District 11, who had expressed reservations about the governor’s plan, commended the House version for its more nuanced approach.

Best’s initial concerns regarding the reform centered around its potential impact on smaller, rural school districts.

The AEA reform task force will be composed of two special education teachers, two superintendents from schools with student populations above and below 1,000, parents, and a non-public accredited school administrator. Over the next year, this task force will assess AEA performance and propose modifications for FY26. Despite facing resistance from AEAs, educators, parents, and administrators initially, Best notes that these groups found the revised House version more palatable.

Initially opposed to the legislation, the AEA shifted its stance to neutral following the House’s amendments. Meanwhile, the Iowa Senate is developing its own iteration of the bill, with Best hinting at potential dissent towards the forthcoming proposal from the Senate.

In response to the House bill’s passage, Governor Reynolds expressed gratitude towards House leadership and members for advancing this crucial legislation. She emphasized the imperative of enhancing student outcomes within the AEA system, citing national and state test scores and feedback from the U.S. Department of Education. The Governor stressed the need for transparency, accountability, and consistency across AEA regions to elevate services for students with disabilities. Highlighting input from numerous school districts across the state, Governor Reynolds reaffirmed the collective commitment to enhancing outcomes for Iowa’s special education students.