Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Information about the planned ICCSD school budget cuts

UPDATE: Some district materials about the planned cuts are now available. See this post.

At last night’s school board work session, the superintendent presented his plan for addressing the $3.6 million budget shortfall for next year. A friend of mine took the following notes on the superintendent’s plan. There was a lot of information to process, and the note-taker warns that there may be inaccuracies in her notes. Also, these notes reflect only what the superintendent presented at the work session, not what may have been discussed later in the work session or the board meeting that followed it. News coverage of the meeting is here, here, here, and here. When (if?) I see that the district has posted an official account of the plan, I will update this post.

Disclaimer: I took notes as best as I could hear from where I was sitting. Members of the public were not provided copies of the budget handout. My numbers add up to more $3.6 million, so it seems likely that I have made one or more transcription errors. (I’m wondering if the world language/keyboarding/junior high general music cuts are double counted?—part of the course offering reduction savings—but also listed out separately?)

District Budget Adjustment

These are cuts from general fund spending; categorical funds were not included.

No reduction in force is planned, but staff may need to be reassigned.

$95,000 from building allocations for printing and other costs.

$26,000 from non-contractual meals provided to staff.

$10,000 from budget forecasting software.

$80,000 from discretionary busing (to be announced later).

$30,000 from athletics line item and 7th grade football eliminated.

$100,000 from not filling Director of Community Relations position, duties to be reassigned to other staff.

$125,000 from building level retirement (principal?), duties to be reassigned to other staff.

$223,000 from clerical staff, duties to be reassigned between media and office secretaries.

$89,000 from overtime (paid $600,000 in overtime this year to date).

$63,000 from ESC staff, duties to be reassigned.

$45,000 from general education para-educators, hours to be reallocated across the district.

$32,000 from substitute teachers, with a change in rules about substitutes for staff without direct student contact for most of the day.

$44,000 from nurses, adjust and re-prioritize staff responsibilities.

$16,000 from reduction in allowed extended contract days.

$91,000 from trades/crafts/custodians.

$628,000 from adjusting the number of course/section offerings and class size of 24-32 at high school level.

$322,000 from adjusting the number of course/section offerings and class size of 22-30 at junior high school level.

$124,000 from phasing out German language instruction at high school level.

$239,000 from cutting 7th grade world languages, phasing out German language instruction at the junior high school level.

$222,000 from reducing to one Dean of Students at each high school.

$88,000 from high school guidance, re-prioritize assignments.

$59,000 from reducing high school library staffing.

$90,000 from eliminating general music at the junior high school level.

$74,000 from eliminating 7th grade keyboarding as a required class, offering it only as an elective to those students who need it.

Elementary class sizes up to 24 at grades K-2, up to 30 at grades 3-6 (will not meet board aspirational goals).

$440,000 from eliminating 4th grade orchestra program and increasing the size of small groups for small group instruction for 5th-6th grade orchestra and band.

$177,000 from elementary guidance, reallocate current staff to cover retirements.

$88,000 from elementary library programs.

$170,000 from efficiencies in scheduling art, general music, and PE elementary teachers to minimize travel time between schools served.

$177,000 from shifting cost of reading instruction from general fund to Title I funds.

$88,000 from shifting cost of MARS professional development from general fund to categorical funds.

UPDATE: You can compare my friend’s notes with those of Paul Deaton here.


KD said...

Wow, I have a lot of questions. For anyone reading, these cuts are planned for the upcoming school year? Meaning that kids already enrolled in foreign language classes for next fall at the junior high level...they won't be there?

Why so many cuts at the junior high level? If I am reading things right one of my kids will directly be affected by three of the cuts. One I don't care so much about....but the other two I'm not pleased about. But most of all I'm feeling sad for my kid when he had already been looking forward to participating to one of the activities that has been cut.

What will be the plans for kids who would have enrolled in a foreign language? Study hall? Shoving them in other elective classes that are already overcrowded?

With just one move, the ICCSD seems like a much less attractive district, with the reduced offerings. I was on board with the eventual plan to build the third high school, but how would we ever staff it without making more cuts? With making the district less attractive by making cuts to things like junior high foreign language, will the ICCSD continue to experience growth?

I know there are all sorts of different funding pots, and these cuts coming from different funding sources than the ones used to build new schools. Still though the whole Hoover situation is a bitter pill to swallow with new schools being planned, a functional one being closed...but not enough money to properly staff the schools we have now.

Maybe I'm overreacting, but it seems like in one fell swoop my youngest kid is being denied the opportunities that were available to my oldest kid. It doesn't seem right.

Lastly, thanks for keeping up with your blog and covering all of these issues.

Anonymous said...

Yes, these cuts do seem especially harsh for junior-high students. Does anyone else think it ironic that the Press-Citizen followed this lead story with a photo of the great success by the City High German class in this year's German-proficiency exam? My older son was able to take German classes for 5 full years in the ICCSD, studied further at the UI, including a year of study-abroad in Germany, and uses his German skills to this day in his medical practice.
Languages are best learned in the earlier grades. Why is the District making it harder to do?

Karen W said...

So the numbers should work out with the 4th grade orchestra program cuts being immediately spent on adding elementary classroom teachers.

I was told to figure about $80,000 per teacher (salary plus benefits) so it looks like they would be adding five to six new teachers at the elementary level.

It is too bad that they don't show the class sizes with and without the 4th grade orchestra cuts.

Karen W said...

For each dollar cut from the athletics budget, world languages took a $12.10 cut and music programs took a $17.80 cut.

Anonymous said...

KD may have a point. We should consider keeping Hoover open instead of opening a new elementary or building additions elsewhere. Could we meet the capacity needs that way?

Likewise, can we just use City and West? West would be much larger than City but we would be operating only two buildings.

Greg said...

These proposed cuts are especially hard to stomach at a time when the district is apparently planning to unneccessarily spend several million to pave over a perfectly functional Hoover with a new parking lot, while introducing no net increase in capacity elsewhere. This is really senseless.

I'm hoping we'll have several new candidates for school board in the next election, and a lot of turnover.

Chris P said...

My daughter has been looking forward to orchestra for 2 years having watched her older brother and older cousin play their instruments. Now that she is about to be in 4th grade they cut the program, right after we voted for a tax increase to fund the school system. Parents don't care about the "multiple pots of money" argument. We just know that we voted for our schools and now receive less opportunity for our children. Thanks ICCSD, makes me want to pick up and move to the Clear-Creek, Amanna district.

Chris said...

Chris P -- I hear you, though I do think there's blame to go around. It really is true that the state forces the district to think in terms of separate pots of money; they simply can't take construction funds and spend them on teachers. (Dumb rule, in my opinion, but entirely the state's fault.) Nonetheless, the board has to use the money it gets wisely, and it's not clear that it has. At this point, there's no avoiding cuts of some kind, but I think the public is rightly unwilling to simply trust that the administrators made the best choices of where to cut. The whole process should have been more transparent and open to public input. At the very least we should have been given information about what the different options were and why they chose some rather than others. I hope the board will exercise some oversight of the decisions -- but I wouldn't bet on it.

iclocal said...

Chris P,
Clear Creek doesn't have orchestra and offers much less than the ICCSD. Same goes for the surrounding smaller districts. Even though the ICCSD has problems it is still the best school district in the county. Also, the smaller districts are not known for having top scholars.