Test scores, a new fire station and mental health services were the topics of the first Eggs & Issues legislative forum of 2014 held Saturday morning.
The first Eggs & Issues of the year delved into city, county and education topics. Oskaloosa Mayor Dave Krutzfeldt, County Supervisor Chairman Mike Vander Molen and Oskaloosa Superintendent Russ Reiter were on hand to field questions from the audience.
Education was the first topic of the day.
Reiter fielded a question about test scores and why Iowa ranks the way it does against other states.
Reiter said there is not one specific reason for test scores. States have their own specific measures of academic progress and assessments do change, he said.
Reiter said “funding” is an issue for test scores.
“Iowa is a little behind the times” compared to other states, he said.
As an example, Massachusetts, which is No. 1 in test scores, made a concerted effort to fund education over many years, Reiter said.
“We're about 15 years behind other states,” Reiter said.
Iowa had been No. 1 for so many years that the state got complacent. The test scores for fourth-, eighth- and 11th-graders are stable, he said.
“They're basically flat,” Reiter said.
Later in the meeting, Reiter said he would like to see consistency in funding from the state in regards to allowable growth. State financial aid is based on student enrollment, and Reiter is pleased that there are 35 more students enrolled in Oskaloosa schools.
Krutzfeldt spoke about the new fire station.
The fire station project is estimated to be roughly $3 million; its genesis is the result of the recent demolition of the Water Department building, which housed a lot of Fire Department equipment.
The project will need a vote of the people, likely sometime in the next three to four months, Krutzfeldt said.