The state budget is one of the biggest factors school districts have to consider when planning ahead financially. But lawmakers still haven't made up their minds for next year. The uncertainty is causing problems for some schools, especially those in districts where cuts are inevitable.
The Ballard School District can no longer wait on lawmakers - the district needs to prepare for next year, now.
“We have to plan based on a conservative scenario,” said David Jackson, the President of the Ballard Board of Education.
The district is planning on an additional 2% in state funding; an increase that will still leave an $800,000 shortfall.
“That really means in order to get to that $800,000 we have to cut deeper than that. We have to cut over a million dollars, because we have to cover increased costs as well. So it’s a sizable cut,” said Jackson.
Some of the shortfall the district is faced with stems from a new high school. “When you open a new facility there are staffing implications, you add staff, you add energy costs, and so all those things contribute,” explained Superintendent Ottie Maxey. But the superintendent said that school was needed. The district gains an average of 20 students per year. But that growth now has them worried even further about the cuts- which could mean fewer staff in the classroom.
“There will be some people that will not have jobs next year in the district,” said Jackson.
More than 20 positions will have to be cut, out of 179.
“Frankly it's gut-wrenching,” said Maxey.
The Iowa House has already approved a 2% increase in funding. The Senate has opted for a 4% hike.
Final recommendations on how to make up for the $800,000 shortfall in the Ballard school district are expected March 11th. Those behind the decision said they are working to make sure none of the schools programs suffer with the cuts. One thing they are considering is possibly funding some coaching positions out of the activities fund, and cut supplies as much as they can.