Green Hills AEA is one of nine Iowa AEAs that were established by the Iowa Legislature in 1974 to be an effective, efficient and economical means of identifying and serving children, birth to age 21. The decision was the result of a federal law mandating a free, appropriate, public education for children with disabilities. The Iowa legislature was also facing concerns about inequitable services from district to district across the state. The original 15 AEAs followed the boundaries of the community college system. In 2000, the AEAs asked for legislation allowing for voluntary mergers of AEAs which brought the number of AEAs to nine. All AEAs work to ensure that every child receives a free, appropriate, quality education.
The method used to provide state aid to AEAs is referred to as a “flow through” concept. That is, AEA funding is controlled by legislatively determined amounts of property tax dollars and state funds that literally “flow through” local school district budgets to the AEA. AEA funding is included in a school district budget. However, the school district does not receive AEA-related state aid funding. Rather, funds generated by a school district through the operation of the state school aid formula are set aside for the AEA and then subtracted by the state from what a district would receive from the state and passed through to an AEA. The flow-through money is not, and has never been, district money. Those dollars cannot be “rolled-over” into a district budget. AEAs have no taxing authority and are funded through a combination of local property taxes, which flow from school districts; direct state aid; federal dollars; various grants; and sales of services. AEAs have no bonding or tax levy authority for facility acquisition, operations, insurance, early reitrement programs, cash flow or additional allowable growth.