POCAHONTAS - State financial aid to public schools should in the future be linked to efforts to improve academic performance by students, according to Gov. Terry Branstad.
Branstad told a Pocahontas audience Tuesday morning that a changing economy and educational advances by other states and countries mean it's time to start doing things differently in Iowa schools. One of the things he said ought to be changed is the current formula, called allowable growth, by which the state gives money to school districts.
''I think that a significant amount of the resources will be tied to things that are focused on improving student achievement,'' he said. ''I'll be very open and frank about that. If you look over the last 20 years we've put a lot of additional money into education. We haven't necessarily seen the improvement in student achievement. But I think we want to try to really align our resources with things that we think will get us improved student achievement.''
Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad speaks during a town hall meeting he and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds held Tuesday morning in the Pocahontas High School to discuss education issues. State funding for school districts and potential new leadership roles for teachers were two of the subjects they addressed.
He and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds didn't offer specifics on how aid to schools would be linked to student achievement when they spoke at a town hall meeting dedicated to education. The meeting was held in the recently remodeled and expanded Pocahontas High School. About 100 people, including high school social studies and government students, attended.
Branstad and Reynolds outlined some ideas they have for improving schools, but provided few details on how those ideas could become reality. Some education task forces appointed by the governor are to submit reports in October. Branstad said he will review those reports, and then prepare specific recommendations to be given to the legislature in January.
The governor does plan to revisit one issue from this year's legislative session - a teacher accountability plan that did not become law. Following the town hall meeting, Branstad said the proposal would require that evaluations of teachers and principals be based at least in part on student achievement.
''We are absolutely committed to that,'' he said.
He said that such an accountability program is needed so that Iowa can get a waiver from the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind law.
Creating new leadership positions for teachers was one of the major ideas Branstad and Reynolds talked about Tuesday. Branstad said school principals cannot provide all the instructional leadership that is needed.
''Adopting policies that put teachers in leadership positions is really a hallmark of high performing school systems around the world,'' Reynolds said.
She said teachers in such roles would take on additional responsibilities, such as mentoring younger colleagues, and would be paid more. She acknowledged that not every teacher will want those added duties, but said she and Branstad believe they should have that option.
The lieutenant governor said the Branstad administration is considering an overhaul of how teachers are paid, which would include higher base pay. She said a new system should also reward those who teach in the ''most difficult schools'' and those who teach mathematics and science. The administration has recently placed an increased emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.
Longer school years and school days are also being considered, according to the governor.
Branstad asked those gathered at the meeting to press lawmakers for education reforms.
''You can make it clear to candidates seeking election or re-election to the legislature that you expect them next session to adopt reform policies that will raise achievement for all of Iowa's students,'' he said.
The meeting Tuesday was the second time in a month that Branstad and Reynolds visited the area and offered some hints of their priorities for the 2013 legislative session. On Aug. 8, they went to Rockwell City. At that time Branstad said he would consider raising the state's gasoline tax as part of a package that also decreased income and property taxes.