Davenport School Board risks impeachment for funding stance

DAVENPORT -- The Davenport School Board is making a bold stand that could bring it down.

Board President Ralph Johanson called backing embattled Superintendent Art Tate a moral imperative that could also lead to board impeachments.

"If it's wrong, you've got to do it," he said, of the board's decision to continue illegally spending cash reserves unless state lawmakers pass funding reforms.

"This is about equality and equity for all students in the state of Iowa," he said.

While reform legislation easily cleared the Iowa Senate, it's stalling in the House, with just days left in the session.

The board stands united in a last-minute resolution they're sending to lawmakers.

"You can't afford to wait," Johanson said.

The issue has already put the district's superintendent, Dr. Art Tate, on the path to losing his license.

He uses reserves to make up the difference from a funding formula that shortchanges nearly 300 Iowa school districts.

"It would be immoral not to use the reserves, regardless of consequences," he said, during a December 2016 hearing in Des Moines.

During this uncertainty, the school board must consider what happens if Dr. Tate loses his license, or if all seven members are impeached.

"That would be messy," Johanson continued.  "It would be really challenging for the district and community."

Johanson thinks the state will revoke Dr. Tate's license, which causes worries over impeaching his volunteer team.

"That's a steep, hard learning curve," he continued.  "I can't even imagine seven people from our community coming in."

Even so, this school board is risking it all to send a message.

"We believe it is important," he concluded.  "We believe that it is worth fighting for."

It could be a fight to the finish over Iowa school funding.