Gronstal withdraws motion to reconsider school start date bill

Schools 3By Bob Eschliman


During the morning opening of the Iowa Senate on Tuesday, Iowa Senate Majority Leader conceded defeat on Senate File 227, which will set the earliest school start date as Aug. 23.

SF 227, a compromise bill that allowed for continuation and expansion of year-round calendars for elementary and middle school programs while reinstating financial penalties for schools that began their traditional calendars prior to the earliest start date that had been previously removed from the bill, faced stiff opposition. The state’s largest teacher’s union, the Iowa State Education Association, and Education Democrats in both the House and Senate had vowed to continue fighting for expanded year-round calendars for all grade levels and to remove the financial penalties.

Mounting pressure from public school districts, many of which have but a few days to set the schedules for the 2015-16 school year, who said they were willing to accept the provisions of the House-amended version of SF 227 probably was the final blow. Without Gronstal’s motions to reconsider in the way, Gov. Terry Branstad may sign the bill immediately.

Earlier in the morning opening, senators honored the achievements of Dr. Sally Mason, President of the University of Iowa, who will retire on June 30, with the adoption of Senate Resolution 24, authored by state Sen. Bob Dvorsky (D-Coralville), on a customary voice vote. Following the vote, Mason spoke briefly of her appreciation for the assistance the State of Iowa provided following the Flood of 2008, which significantly damaged the university campus.

Senators also had a formal introduction with Arlen Ciechanowski, Gov. Branstad’s appointee to serve as Director of the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy. Following his introduction, Ciechanowski was available in the Senate lobby to take questions from legislators.

The Senate also heard the second point of personal privilege speech in as many days from pro-life Republicans seeking a vote on House File 573. That bill, which relates to abortion prerequisites, remains stalled in the Senate Human Relations Committee, chaired by state Sen. Liz Mathis (D-Robins).

State Sen. Ken Rozenboom (R-Oskaloosa) delivered a fiery speech about what is now known about unborn children, saying the days of calling the unborn “blobs of tissue” were over. He urged his colleagues to “ignore the voices in chamber,” and to listen to their own hearts to move the proposed legislation to the floor for a vote.


CLICK HERE to see video of the morning opening.