After months of soliciting feedback from parents, staff and other Davenport Community Schools stakeholders, school board members directed Superintendent Art Tate on Monday to cut $3.2 million from next year’s budget.
Where those cuts will come from, however, is still up in the air.
The board will likely approve the budget at its April 8 meeting.
The proposed cuts must be published and available for public inspection sometime between March 19 and 29, said Marsha Tangen, the school district’s chief financial officer.
The district’s Resource Allocation Committee has recommended cutting $3.25 million from the budget annually over the next five years.
A big unknown when it comes to making cuts is the amount of allowable growth, which is yet to be set by the Iowa Legislature.
Tangen said the district is building the budget around an estimated 2 percent allowable growth, which is included in one of two proposals made by lawmakers.
Tangen said that although the reductions could be decreased if legislators pass a higher allowable growth, the cuts cannot go above $3.2 million.
The Resource Allocation Committee, which is made up of 25 representatives of the school district and the community, recommended several budget reductions, such as early retirement incentives, an insurance holiday, transportation efficiencies, and a 5 percent across-the-board reduction in building budgets for supplies.
Other recommendations include paid conditional busing, with an estimated savings of $132,000 and adding one student per class in grades third through five for an estimated savings of $300,000.
Board member Nikki DeFauw said she would like to see the across-the-board reductions cut down to only 2.5 percent.
“I’m really concerned about our cutting site budget ... we’ve gone to that well so many times,” she said.
Board member Larry Roberson said that although it’s “very, very painful,” the district can’t afford to take any proposal off the table at this point.
“We have to look deeper into our options to come up with that money,” Roberson said.
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The board also directed Tate to continue to look at proposed school boundary changes.
Tate said the district needs to establish a transfer decision process regardless of what the boundary changes are.
Among some of the criteria proposed by Tate are whether the health of the student is negatively affected by remaining at the school and whether the student is attending a specialized program at a high school that would require him or her to stay for the majority of the school day.
In other business, the board approved increasing breakfast and lunch prices by 10 cents for students already paying full price.
School officials say the increase is federally mandated under the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which requires districts to raise meal prices gradually over the next several years until the price reaches $2.59.
That’s the current amount the government reimburses schools for students who receive free lunches.
The increase does not affect pre-kindergarten and reduced meal students.