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Parents and educators in Dubuque are concerned about AEA changes



Dubuque, Iowa – Legislators in Dubuque convened a listening session on Tuesday afternoon, concentrating on the modifications to the financing for Iowa’s nine Area Education Agencies (AEAs).

AEAs offer media and curriculum support in addition to special education services. Before the enactment of this new law, school districts were compelled to provide AEAs with exclusive funding for special education and some other services.

For the forthcoming school year, nothing will change regarding special education funding; however, the following year, districts will have control over 10% of the spending.

The funding for media services fluctuates instantly. This coming school year, districts will control 60% of that financing; the following year, districts will control 100% of that funding.

Kodye Runde, the 22-year-old son of Tracy Runde, is still receiving services from an AEA.

Runde is aware that not all AEA financial adjustments will take effect immediately.

“It could be a while, but it sounds like within a couple of years it’ll pretty much be gone.”

“I’m terrified,” she added.

Iowa has witnessed numerous other significant developments in education within the last two years. Governor Reynolds approved vouchers in 2023, allowing the use of public funds for private education. A law that forbids certain publications is currently on hold while it is contested in court. Reynolds signed a bill this month that grants qualified immunity to teachers and other school employees who carry guns and facilitates their access to firearms.

“It’s not easy for me… the average person to understand all the intricacies of the laws,” said Cathy Brimeyer.

At Prescott Elementary, Brimeyer is a paraprofessional. She raised her voice during the Tuesday night meeting at the Keystone AEA, when attendees discussed their worries and sought solutions.
Brimeyer was curious as to whether she should anticipate seeing more firearms at her school. She received a specific response and discovered that the School Boards would need to effectively make a policy and opt in.

“I can only speak for myself as a School Board member, but I can tell you I won’t be voting for guns in our schools,” said Nancy Bradley, a member of the Dubuque Community Schools Board of Education.

Regarding additional queries, such as how long Runde’s son would be able to get services via an AEA, there were either no responses provided or none that were satisfactory.

“You should be worried,” said Democratic State Senator Pam Jochum to Runde. “You should be worried.”