SIOUX CITY (KTIV) — Local legislators and educators gathered for an Education Legislative Forum at the Sioux City Career Academy Saturday.
Legislators shared updates on current legislation for the state of Iowa, while local educators voiced their concerns.
“For the Sioux City Community School District, we want to make sure that we’re advancing issues to help support our kids and making sure we’re articulating the needs of our students,” said Brian Burnight, Director Of Elementary Education.
Perla Alarcon-Flory, Sioux City School Board President, said they are grateful for the opportunity to speak directly to local legislators.
“That have always been willing and available to us. To listen to our concerns. And so, we have one more chance to hear what is happening in the legislature. To hear what their positions are. But also to present special requests and concerns that we might have as a public school district,” said Perla Alarcon-Flory, Board President.
One big topic that was discussed was vouchers… where funds are given to families who can then make a choice to go to private schools.
“In Sioux City, we don’t have any schools currently that are in the comprehensive status. All of our schools are higher than that. Achieving at a higher level. So, the current bill doesn’t directly take students from our schools. But still, the idea that funding would leave our students and then go to private schools students,” said Burnight.
Alarcon-Flory also said the vouchers are a concerning topic.
She added guaranteeing they can continue to provide the best programs possible to students is something that’s important to them.
“It sounds great on paper, but in reality what it’s going to mean is defunding of public schools. And that is a concern because I have experienced first hand from other countries what it is to defund public education and the social problems that this creates,” said Alarcon-Flory.
Due to the size and services they offer… Alarcon-Flory said the Sioux City school district is different from those around them.
“The needs for each school district are different. So, we cannot have just a broad brush painting everything. We need to be very specific on the needs of our students,” said Alarcon-Flory.
Other topics covered at the Forum included school funding and challenges to pre-school care after parents have chosen to keep children at home or alternative child care methods this last year that has an impact on preschool funding in the state.
Sioux City native, Representative Chris Hall was one of the legislators attending the forum
He emphasized the importance of being able to speak with local educators.
He said the state legislative session lasts for about four months and in that time issues can move very quickly.
“It’s so important for us to also be hearing from our community leaders, our elected school board members, our city council, and county supervisors. All local officials are elected to be responsive to the community that they serve. And these meetings give us the right feedback. The opportunity to understand the issues that they’re facing. And also hopefully take that feedback to the capitol and work on it,” said Representative Chris Hall, (D) Iowa.
Hall said hearing comments from educators and those in the community is important for legislators.
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