Des Moines School District Breaks Down Budget Cuts

DES MOINES, Iowa – The Des Moines Public School District is proposing millions of dollars in budget cuts for the following three years.

The district plans to make a $74 million expenditure reduction over the next three years, starting with a $24 million cut for next year.

Superintendent Dr. Tom Ahart said the cuts are a result of public education being underfunded.

“Over seven years of having less than two percent new money from the state. It’s just becoming a real challenge to keep up with just inflation alone,” Ahart said.

The district will lose about 20 teachers and additional faculty from different departments for next year.

“We think that most of those will be absorbed through attrition and through retirements, resignations and so forth,” Ahart said.

The Adult Education program will become a thing of the past in order to fund other programs offered by the district. The program was a mix of non-credited classes that centered around hobbies and personal interests.

The district said the adult education program is not part of its key mission and ending the program will allow $1 million to go towards middle school activities that was once funded by the general fund.

Ahart said a large factor of next year’s budget relies on student enrollment.

“We had a net loss of about 260 students and so at roughly $7,000 per student and then if you project that out again the following year it’s not just that reduction but it’s a reduction compared to our projection, which was a net increase of about 100 students. So, from a projection stand point it is about 360 students,” Ahart said.

In addition, the school is not receiving as much federal money for its Title I program. Title I helps support low-income students.

“About 76 percent of our students qualify for free and reduced lunch so our Title I budget is rather large. That money is used almost exclusively for paying for staff that provide additional support, mostly in reading and math for our students,” Ahart said.

Title I will continue next year like it has this year, but there will not be as much staff to provide additional support.

You can find Title I programs in the district’s elementary schools and at one high school.

Faculty will see changes to their health insurance as well.

“Nothing too dramatic, but it will allow us to save several million dollars by making some adjustments in co-pays and deductibles,” Ahart said.

The budget needs to be finalized by April 15th.

Ahart said, “In virtually every other part of the district we are just tightening the nuts on the bolt a little bit tighter, so asking for everyone to do a little bit more for a little bit less.”

People can voice their opinions and concerns at the following scheduled public forums:

  • Wednesday March 27th – 5:00 p.m. at Roosevelt High School Library
  • Thursday March 28th – 5:00 p.m. DMPS Operations Center (1917 Dean Avenue)
  • Saturday March 30th – 9:00 a.m. Lincoln High School Library
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