The state School Budget Review Committee has, with reservations, approved a Davenport School District plan to reduce its spending.
Davenport Schools Superintendent Art Tate said that he, School Board President Ralph Johanson and Marsha Tangen, chief financial officer, presented the plan Tuesday before the committee in Des Moines.
The plan, which the board discussed Monday at its regular meeting, calls for saving $9,058,397 during the school year 2018-19. It includes early retirement incentives, staff reductions, fewer substitutes, changing bell times to reduce routes, delaying textbook purchases and energy-efficiency measures.
Under state law, school district have limits on what they spend, said Staci Hupp, spokesperson for the Iowa State Board of Education.
Districts that spend beyond authorized limits must go before the committee, she said. It is a nonpartisan panel, established by the Iowa legislature and separate from the state Department of Education, with authority for school budgets and accounting. It reviews budgets and hears requests for modification of budget limitations.
“The authorized spending limit is different from what a district has,” Hupp said. “Every district in the state has a limit on what it can legally spend.”
This hearing continued a process that began in the fall of 2016, when the Davenport School District asked for modification of its supplemental aid. It had money in its cash reserve and wished to use it. The district had spent more than allocated to offset the lower cost per pupil funding it receives from the state under the school funding formula.
Tate argued if the district had a higher cost-per-student he could spend more money. But the committee denied the request because it is considered the request a legislation issue, not a committee issue.
“Overspending is a violation of state law,” Hupp said.
In December 2016, the committee wasn’t comfortable granting additional spending authority because the district had intentionally spent money it was not authorized to spend. The request was denied. In December 2017, the district asked again for modified supplemental aid. The committee tabled the request, asking the Davenport board to return with a five-year plan “that gets the district back on track,” Hupp said.
That’s the plan Tate and others presented Tuesday. This time, the committee tabled the district’s request for modified supplemental aid, but said to come back in October with a plan to be reconsidered. It “acknowledged that the school board was putting forth a solid effort to address negative spending issues. So the corrective plan was approved with reservations,” Hupp said.
Tate said the district needs to follow its Vision 2020 plan, which, among other concerns, takes into consideration that district enrollment may be down by 600 students by the year 2023.
Vision 2020 includes a Long Range Facilities Plan that the board approved Monday. To see the plan, visit http://www.davenportschools.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Vision-2020.pdf