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Davenport students lobby for education funding reforms in Des Moines

DES MOINES, Iowa -- Davenport high school students traveled to Des Moines on Monday, February 20, to deliver a message about reforming education funding in the state.

"It's one thing to talk about funding equality," said Davenport School Board member Rich Clewell.  "It's another thing when there is no cash."

Some 50 Davenport students, teachers and administrators joining the "Get on the Bus Trip" want lawmakers to act quickly.

"I think it's an important thing for legislators to see that we are students being affected," said Madison Cousins, 17, a junior at Davenport West.  "We know the numbers, and we'll be the future."

Students know all about the funding formula that shortchanges the Davenport district.

Since the district continues to overspend reserves to make up the difference, Superintendent Art Tate's job is on the line.

"I like the fact that they are backing the issue," he said.  "It's the issue funding inequality.  They care about it, and hopefully, we'll prevail."

Gov. Terry Branstad, who briefed students with Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds, isn't so sure.

"I don't think we can do all this in one year," he said.

Monday's session with lawmakers really helps to put faces to the issue.

Iowa is already planning to give schools less of a funding increase in the coming year.

It also comes at a time when Davenport schools face millions of dollars in cuts.

"I really hope it comes through to senators and representatives when we come up here that we are not numbers," said Mickey Sloat, 17, a senior at Davenport Central.  "I'm going to college next year. How am I going to compete with others in Iowa, let alone the rest of the country?"

Students are learning that they have a voice.  By speaking up, they can help to influence change.

It's change that could shape education funding for decades to come.

"It's about the kids who are in first, second or third grades," said A.J, Smith, 17, a senior at Davenport Central.

These students know that the clock is ticking, and they're depending on quick results.