Relying on Instructional Support Levy Tax for Iowa Core Training?

The Fort Dodge Community School District has come to rely upon their ISL (instructional support levy) tax to help pay for professional development.  From the Mason City Globe Gazette:

Fort Dodge Superintendent of Schools Doug Van Zyl said his district works to educate the public about the connection between top-flight education and an engaged community.

“You hear people say, ‘Well, I don’t have kids in school.’ ” However, he said, a community’s quality of life is based on the quality of its schools.

“The ISL has a very large impact on our budget,” Van Zyl said. “We use it just what it says it is for: instructional support.”

The adoption by the state of the Iowa Core Curriculum requires additional funding for training and professional development, he said. The district would be hard-pressed to provide the training without the ISL revenue.

“It’s like any other job; to be better at what you do, you have to have the training,” Van Zyl said.

Fort Dodge, whose ISL expires next year, receives $1.2 million from the levy, raised through an almost 50-50 split between income surtax and property tax.

I don’t know if Mr. Van Zyl also meant the Common Core ELA and Math Standards, but wait until he has to fund assessments (provided the Iowa Legislature allows the Iowa Department of Education to mandate them).   I also wonder how many other school districts have had this issue or have used the ISL this way.  The article says that 97% of school districts utilize an ISL.  Anyway, this is an example how a loss of local control can impact tax payers.

About Shane Vander Hart

Shane Vander Hart founded Iowans for Local Control in 2012 which later merged with Iowa RestorEd. Shane also is the founder and editor-in-chief of Caffeinated Thoughts and the founder and president of 4:15 Communications, LLC, a social media & communications consulting/management firm.  You can connect with Shane on Facebook or follow him on Twitter and Google +.


  1. I would like to know more about this specific situation.

    As a curriculum director at an Iowa school district, I can confirm each school district has received categorical state aid over the past several years from the state for the purpose of implementing the Iowa Core. This is in addition to any local instructional support property tax levies.

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