Skip to Content

### Senate Propels Personalized Plan for Area Education Agencies Reform, Returns to House

In Iowa, State Senators have set aside the House’s version of a bill aimed at reforming the state’s Area Education Agencies (AEAs). Instead, they have approved their own revised version on Monday, necessitating the legislation to return to the House for further approval.

Governor Kim Reynolds initially withdrew her original bill to revamp Iowa’s nine AEAs two months ago. Following extensive discussions and a two-week period without debate, GOP Senators decided to discard the House’s proposal in favor of a new version more closely aligned with the governor’s preferences.

According to State Sen. Lynn Evans (R- Aurelia), the revised bill grants more autonomy to AEAs, allowing them to tailor their expenditures to the specific needs of students in their respective districts.

Under the Senate GOP’s plan spanning two years, the majority of funds for special education, media, and general education services would be allocated to school districts. Schools would also have the option to choose whether to continue utilizing AEAs for these programs, engage another entity for services, or directly hire staff.

Additionally, oversight of the AEAs would transition to the Department of Education’s recently established division of special education.

State Sen. Pam Jochum (D- Dubuque) highlighted the crucial role AEAs played in her personal experience, emphasizing the support they provided for her child’s development.

Republicans have raised concerns about the AEAs’ performance standards and advocate for increased accountability, citing instances where families had to seek services outside the state due to perceived shortcomings.

Despite Democrats proposing the formation of a commission to assess Iowa’s AEAs before implementing significant changes, this suggestion was rejected by Republicans.

The bill advanced with a vote of 28 to 22, with six Republicans aligning with Democrats in opposition. The next step involves the proposal returning to the House for further deliberations among both chambers and the governor.