School Board Discusses Potential Program Changes/Reductions
Waukee Community School District’s Board of Education discussed potential program changes/reductions at the December 14 meeting. Over the next few years the District’s general fund budget projections show expenditures exceeding revenues. The Board was presented with possible program areas that could be reduced for the 2016-17 school year. Two options were discussed each totaling a little more than $1 million in reductions.
“We’re suffering from the reality of less-than-adequate funding by the Iowa legislature over the past several years. This coupled with an ever increasing student population, puts a strain on our general fund budget,” David J. Wilkerson, Ph.D., superintendent, said. “Funding always lags for new students by at least a full year. For the current school-year, we are educating, 700 students for whom we receive NO funding. That represents a shortfall of $4.5 million in the year we are tasked with educating them.”
Option A proposed a 7 period day for grades 6-9. This restructure would remove the double-block Language Arts in grades 6-8. Pros for this option included increased time in other classes, less students in study hall. Cons for this option included loss of an elective choice for 9th grade and loss of PLC color time during the day. Option B proposed a 7 period day for grade 8 only this would require the addition of a new 6th grade section in both buildings which would require an additional six teachers.
When the district was forced to make cuts in 2010, due to the state’s 10% across the board reduction in school funding, the bulk of the reductions occurred in administration and at the elementary levels, as well as some significant cut-backs in operations. The scenarios currently presented would mostly impact the middle grades. The goal, in looking at various options, is to have the smallest impact possible on students, instruction and our core mission of education.
Both proposals also included reductions in Operations and Human Resources. While reductions were also proposed for Nutrition and Community Ed, these reductions have no effect on the general fund. The reduction total for general option A equaled $1,415,543. The reduction total for general option B equaled $1,263,510.
Waukee Community School District anticipates needing somewhere in the vicinity of 30 new positions district-wide for the 2016-17 school year to accommodate the growth and open its eighth elementary school, Grant Ragan.
“We need to add staff to meet the demands of growth, at the same time we pull back in some programming. While it might be a different seat on the bus, it’s a seat. We will not open ANY teaching positions in our district to outside candidates until we’ve gone through the process of trying to place all existing staff in new positions that they are properly certified to teach,” Wilkerson said.
No action was taken Monday night. The Board will be asked to act on reductions at the January 11, 2016 board meeting.