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Reynolds signs voluntary diversity ban into law, extends open enrollment for five districts
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Reynolds signs voluntary diversity ban into law, extends open enrollment for five districts

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Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks during a news conference in Johnston.

Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill into law Monday afternoon that bans voluntary diversity plans at Iowa schools.

School districts will no longer be able to restrict open enrollment to promote diversity at an institution. The change will affect five school districts: Des Moines, Davenport and Waterloo, which have socioeconomic metrics of diversity, and West Liberty and Postville, where English language learners are considered.

The bill takes effect immediately. The March 1 open enrollment deadline is waived for students in those five districts who want to transfer before this fall.

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A nonpartisan Legislative Services Agency analysis of the bill estimated that more than 500 students would choose to leave those five districts and choose new schools for the 2021-2022 school year. That would mean a funding dip for the districts, as the state appropriates money based on the number of students enrolled.

The LSA estimates a $554,175 decrease in state per pupil funds for Waterloo Schools under the bill, which would equate to 75 new open enrollments out of the district for classes starting in the fall. Another 57 students leaving at a cost of $431,832 under the new open enrollment option is estimated for the 2022-23 school year.

“Our education should be about the kids,” Rep. Dustin Hite, R-New Sharon, said, “And not about the school districts themselves.”

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Iowa Capital Dispatch is part of States Newsroom, a network of news outlets supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Iowa Capital Dispatch maintains editorial independence.

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