Iowa Area Education Agencies’ Statement on “Unsustainable” Budget Cuts from Iowa Legislature

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Iowa’s Area Education Agencies depend on state funding to support their programs and services. Iowa legislators’ decision to cut funding to Iowa’s AEAs for consecutive years directly impacts our system’s ability to support our state’s most vulnerable students which includes students with disabilities. These cuts are unsustainable, and we do believe there will be service impacts as a result. While our staff will remain focused on supporting all children in Iowa, our organization cannot continue sustaining reductions in funding like these. We have heard assurances from our legislative partners that they will try to work collaboratively with our system to address this shortcoming in funding, and we look forward to working hard this summer to find a solution that better supports Iowa children.

Iowa Families React to AEA Funding Cuts

“Iowa taxpayers like me hope legislators use our money to multiply resources in a way that helps all Iowans. Until I had a family member who needed AEA services, I was unaware of how broadly and profoundly those services impact children and families. My family member received AEA services in Keota, a small rural school, and those services continued when they relocated to a larger metro school in another part of our state. We should be more aware of the impact of cutting funding necessary to support organizations like the AEAs.” Trudy Caviness, Ottumwa, IA

“Our son is graduating from a nonpublic high school this month, and we wouldn’t be where we are if it weren’t for the services we received from the AEA. Over the years he has received hearing and speech services from the AEA which included speech therapy, audiologist equipment checks, sign language interpreter services and support from an itinerant teacher of the deaf and hard of hearing. If the funding for any single cog of that support wheel were eliminated, it would have greatly affected his ability to succeed in a classroom with his peers.” Ann Finneman, Cedar Rapids, IA

“My wife and I are both fourth generation Iowans, raised in Iowa schools, and have received advanced degrees from Iowa universities. When our son, Leo, was born, we were proud to raise him in Iowa. When he was diagnosed as autistic, we were lost. The AEA was the first organization to offer services to Leo.  Free of charge. No matter how much we made or didn’t make. The AEA provides services to Leo and every child in Iowa who qualifies. They have been an educational load-bearer in this state for as long as I can remember. The $5 million dollars in cuts to AEA funding takes those services right out of the hands of children who need them most. These cuts will hurt the poor and disabled more than anyone. These cuts will hurt educators and schools at a time when public education is already under attack. Most importantly to me, these cuts hurt my family. We want to stay in Iowa because of the education our son receives and because it’s our home. These cuts from the legislature make it clear that there isn’t room in Iowa for families and sons like mine.” Voyna, Bettendorf, IA