‘Education, I Thought, Was a Priority,’ Superintendent Complains

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AMES, Iowa -- You might find it a bit odd to put together a spending plan when you don't know how much money you have. But that's what Tim Taylor is doing.

Taylor is the superintendent for the Ames Public Schools. He has to be more math scholar than superintendent, though. That's because state legislators have chosen not to follow the law in determining school funding for the coming year. Actually, they should have set it February 13, 2014.

For Taylor, the man whose job it is, in part, to teach and enforce the rules for his 4,500 students, it is difficult to come to terms with state lawmakers who aren't following their own rules.

"We do hire elected representatives to represent and do what's best for us as a state," Taylor said, "Education, I thought, was a priority. That being said, part of that is making sure young people understand that there are rules. You have to obey the law. For our legislators not to do that, that's not a very healthy situation."

Taylor said he has to put together his $80 million budget based on the assumption he won't get any additional dollars in the state's per pupil funding formula. Of course, his costs always grow. It is more expensive to educate students because of factors like rising employee salaries and benefits (they are 80 percent of his district's annual budget), increased costs for utilities, plus a host of other added costs.

Here's how Taylor plans to make his numbers work:

Cut four teachers through attrition, as part of $500,000 spending reductions.

Increase property tax collections by $274,000.

The school board plans to finalize the changes at its meeting next week.

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