Iowa committee rejects Davenport’s bid for school reforms

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DES MOINES, Iowa  — An Iowa education committee unanimously rejected financial help for cash-strapped Davenport schools. Davenport lost a bid for short-term relief during a pitch to change the state's funding formula before the School Budget Review Committee on Tuesday, December 13, 2016.

As Davenport leaders square off against the state, they call it a chance to level the playing field for Iowa students, but Davenport's superintendent and school board were scolded for inappropriately spending cash reserves.

"Knowing that the supports and interventions are helping to close the opportunity and teaching gaps, it would be immoral not to use the reserves, regardless of consequences," said Dr. Art Tate.

Davenport continues to make the case that the state's funding formula puts students at a disadvantage.  Other districts can spend up to an additional $175 per student.

By intentionally violating state laws, Dr. Tate could eventually face dismissal, along with sanctions for board members who unanimously support his actions.

"We've discussed and understand what the consequences would be with any of these actions," said Davenport School Board President Ralph Johanson.  "It is very serious," he said.

Critics say that deliberate overspending violates the law and could set a dangerous precedent for the state and its students.

"I think what the district is saying to us is: it's not our intent to be positive," said Lee Tack, SBRC Member.  "We're intentionally going negative.  That really influenced the decision."

After more than two years, the fight continues to be an ongoing battle and Davenport may look to the legislature or the courts for relief.