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BUDGET CUTS: Phenix Elementary To Close

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A West Des Moines school board meeting lasted more than three hours Monday night and the outcome isn’t what some parents were hoping for.

Before it was over, board members decided to close one elementary school but spare some of the jobs that were part of proposed cuts..

Monday night, the West Des Moines school board voted to close Phenix Elementary in Valley Junction. It’s part of an effort to narrow its $3.6 million budget deficit.

Phenix enrolls 180 students from kindergarten through third grade. The students who live in the Phenix neighborhood, there are 43, will be transferred to Hillside Elementary six blocks away. The other students will be assigned to other West Des Moines schools.

The district had proposed several other budget-saving cuts, including 21 special education jobs, six first-grade assistant positions, and one counseling position at Valley High School. All of those proposed cuts were taken off the table after they were protested by a long line of parents and teachers at the meeting.

In the end, superintendent Dr. Lisa Remy offered the revised plan but cautioned that it won`t completely solve the budget problem.

“If changes are made in the budget reduction package, as I suggested, that will move us down to $2.7 million, roughly, which means we`re going to have some heavier lifting to do next school year,” says Remy.

Closing Phenix Elementary saves the district roughly $1.1 million.

The board will now have to begin looking at new ways to trim $3.6 million or more from next year’s budget.

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