Sen. Steve Kettering, R-Lake View, comments on the Iowa Board of Regents spending during a legislative forum held Saturday at St. Anthony Regional Hospital. Listening is Rep. Dan Muhlbauer, D-Manilla.&nbsp;<span style="font-size: xx-small;"><em> Daily Times Herald photo by Paige Godden</em></span>
Sen. Steve Kettering, R-Lake View, comments on the Iowa Board of Regents spending during a legislative forum held Saturday at St. Anthony Regional Hospital. Listening is Rep. Dan Muhlbauer, D-Manilla.  Daily Times Herald photo by Paige Godden
Monday, April 16, 2012

A state senator bashed the Iowa Board of Regents’ spending habits and secrecy during the Carroll Chamber of Commerce legislative forum in Carroll Saturday morning.

Steve Kettering, R–Lake View, criticized how tuition money is being spent after he was asked a question about the state decreasing higher-education funding.

“I had a former regent member, Democrat, tell me the regents were a black hole,” Kettering said.

He said the former member told him to dig into the regents’ spending.

“He was in the regents and still getting stonewalled even at that level as to finding out where the money is going,” Kettering said.

Kettering said that during the past week he learned about tuition set-aside that the regents universities are practicing.

Each year about 20 percent of each student’s tuition is put toward scholarship programs for students who can’t afford college.

“If you get done in six years now ... take $1,800 times six and you come up with $10,000,” Kettering said. “That’s tuition you shouldn’t have to be paying.”

He said the state should not be doing that to in-state resident students.

“Do the regents have enough money? I don’t know the answer to that,” Kettering said.

He said that state legislators need to be careful with situations similar to this because the more they get involved with issues like these, the more they get accused of micromanaging.

Micromanaging is something Rob Cordes, superintendent of the Carroll Community School District, was concerned about when he brought up the state setting the school start date to no earlier than the first week of September.

Cordes said that in order for a school district to get around the start date, the school district has to apply for a waiver. There also must be a public hearing before a vote on the school-start date.

“I’ve worked here for 12 years, and in that 12 years we’ve had an open forum each year,” Cordes said. “There has yet to be a parent to show up.”

He said he has never heard of a parent complaining because school got in the way of State Fair plans or vacations.

“If they want to go, they go,” Cordes said.

Cordes then asked, “What is the purpose of our local boards if it isn’t to make that decision?”

Rep. Dan Muhlbauer, D– Manilla, agreed that the power needs to stay in local control.

Kettering said he agreed that the school board should have some power to control school-start dates but said the education committee and the state need to be respected, too.

The two legislators also spoke about term limits and the 110-day legislative session.  

Muhlbaur said that in order for this session of the Legislature to adjourn on time, lawmakers must settle on a budget.

He said issues such as school-start dates and mental-health reform popping up doesn’t make it easy for the session to close on time.