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Riceville Students Turn School Funding Into Hands-On Lesson

January 30, 2018 06:45 PM

(ABC 6 News) -- They’re today’s high school seniors and tomorrow’s leaders, and they’re leading a project that is drawing attention in Des Moines.

"We are a government for the people, by the people,” said Riceville High School social studies and government teacher Emily Schipper. “But the big thing is if it's not by the people, people aren't getting involved, that's when we have a breakdown in the system."

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It was a fact that many of the students at Riceville High School found disturbing. And they turned it into a lesson in government.

"One day our superintendent came into our classroom and kind of talked to us about how school funding works," Riceville senior John Miller said.

“This past spring the Iowa government with their budget passed a 1.1 percent increase on school funding,” Schipper explained.

“There's talk this year that they're not going to increase school funding at all,” Miller added.

"We would like a three percent increase to keep up with rising costs and things like that," Schipper said.

So the Riceville students launched a public information and lobbying campaign/

“So we started having stuff at basketball games, wrestling meets, going around the community and just talking to people and even other schools," Miller told us.

“We went down to the capitol, talked to Waylon Brown and Jane Bloomingdale, both of them really like our idea and they want to change it, but they know there's a balance."

“I understand that we want to grow the economy but I feel as an educator that the way to grow our economy is putting that priority on our students, our future workforce,” Schhipper said.

“And we had a social media campaign as well, we tweeted, we posted on Facebook, we did a hashtag," Riceville high school senior Jillian Keeling said.

“Each of them came up with a hashtag defining our campaign and what we're about, and the one that won out was ‘small school, big voice,’" Schipper said.

“We do have a lot of passion for things we think can change and when we put our mind to something we can really do a big thing," Keeling explained.

“We don't really know what the results will be,” senior Brian Lewis told us. “But like I said we're going to stay optimistic about it.”


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Dan Conradt

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