The final Davenport Schools Vision 2020 forum was brief and subdued compared with two prior forums where parents railed against proposals to close schools.
The district eventually abandoned the plan, but that didn't stop other parents, teachers and school board members from giving advice on Wednesday on other district proposals to cut spending. The forum is the final one this year focused on the district's finances.
Superintendent Art Tate introduced the forum, and reviewed district finances and cost-saving plans. In the past five years, he said, expenditures for operating the district increased by 17 percent. The average increased funding the district received from the state was 15 percent — a difference of $6.5 million.
He shared the five-year budget plan the Davenport School Board approved Tuesday, including a phase-in of outsourcing and increasing class sizes beginning next school year.
Although the revised version of the district cost-saving plan does not include closing a school next year, the board will continue to discuss the possibility of merging an elementary school and a middle school.
Speakers at the forum at North High School included parents and teachers, school board President Ralph Johanson and board members Bruce Potts and Julie DeSalvo.
Others speaking included:
- Parent Debbie Wisely, whose daughters attend Walcott Elementary & Intermediate School. She said her children must cross Y-48 and 110 Ave. at 5 p.m. now that the bell times have changed. “The traffic is backed up at 5 o’clock,” she said, noting that the speed limit is 45 mph. Before, she said, her children got home at 4 p.m. “They’re on that bus for one hour. I wish each one of the (school) board members could do what my two girls have to do every single day … I'm mad," she said while she walked away from the microphone.
- Substitute teacher Lisa Hoft was concerned about adding more students to classrooms. “The biggest thing is the behavior the teachers are seeing in the classroom,” she said. “It would be devastating to put more kids in a classroom and compound those behaviors.”
- Parent Toby Hunemuller said he got involved when Buffalo Elementary School “was on the chopping block.” He thanked the board for delaying its decision to close a school.
Tate invited the community to participate in the school board’s open forum at the beginning of regular school board meetings.