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IC School Board sees $5.6 M cut

BY MITCHELL SCHMIDT | OCTOBER 14, 2009 7:30 AM

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The Iowa City School District will see a $5.6 million cut from its funds — the effects of which may be felt for years.

The cut comes after Gov. Chet Culver announced a 10 percent reduction in state funds across the board.

The Iowa City School Board brought attention to the budget during Tuesday night’s meeting.

Currently, the district has a cash reserve of a little more than $7 million, which will absorb most of the funding loss, said Assistant Superintendent Jim Behle.

“[Effects] will be more long-term during upcoming years,” he said. “We have at least two years of challenging budgets.”

By using the cash reserve to cover the cut, the School District will have much less money to use for upcoming expenditures.

Officials do not foresee any staff layoffs during the current school year, Behle said.

“[Staff numbers] may be more affected for the 2010-2011 school year,” he said.

Property taxes may be used as a means to build up the cash reserve fund in the future. This would help cover cash-flow expenditures.

Any large costs would then result in the district borrowing from a sales-tax fund with fixed interest.

This would be repaid in about a year and would be a temporary action, said Paul Bobek, the executive director of administrative services.

Board member Mike Cooper expressed concern over using the cash reserve to cover costs because the reserve cannot immediately replenish itself.

Members of the public also voiced qualms regarding cuts. Anne Johnson questioned the future of a possible third high school.

“We still need to provide capacity for students,” Johnson said.

Board member Tuyet Dorau talked about the need to remain vigilante, as a board, regarding its expenditures.

“We need to know where money is going and why,” she said. “Recurring over-expending adds up quickly.”

The district is still in the process of compiling all the raw data — related to the budget — including finances, staff numbers, and enrollment projections, Bobek said.

“We haven’t analyzed the ‘whys’ yet,” he said.

Tom Yates, the president of the Iowa City Education Association, said it is important for everyone involved to consider all funding options before making decisions in order to avoid hasty actions.

“We don’t want to rush into an economic panic,” Yates said.


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