Fog

School board approves resolution advocating 4 percent allowable growth

Published: Thursday, March 7, 2013 11:25 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, March 7, 2013 11:41 a.m. CDT

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It's like the blind leading the blind.

Clarke Community Interim Superintendent Steve Seid said this was a good analogy about setting an upcoming school budget and not knowing how much allowable growth school districts would receive from the state.

Allowable growth is the maximum increase for school budgets.

"It's about not knowing income, and you have expenses that need to be spent and prioritized," Seid said in a telephone interview with the Osceola Sentinel-Tribune Feb. 28.

Resolution

During a Feb. 25 Clarke Community School Board meeting, the board unanimously approved a resolution requesting the Iowa Legislature set a 4 percent allowable growth rate for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years prior to consideration of education reform measures.

Seid and Clarke School Board President Gerard Linskens signed the resolution.

In the resolution, it states, "over recent years, the failure of the Legislature to provide sufficient and increased annual funding to Iowa's school districts has a cumulative effect and significantly threatens the ability of Iowa schools to meet the current needs and demands of improved student achievement.

Be it further resolved, to ensure appropriate annual educational funding and fiscal solvency the Clarke Community School District Board of Education resolves that to prepare for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 years, the Legislature should, as statute dictates, approve allowable growth in the first 30 days of the 2013 Legislative session."

According to Seid, the resolution the school board approved originally started with the organization School Administrators of Iowa, which is based in Clive.

The organization's Executive Director Dan Smith had sent it to districts asking it be presented to school boards for approval.

4 percent

"Four percent is typically an amount that would definitely help districts with their finances," Seid said. "The resolution is promoting 4 percent for the next two years."

However, at the state level, there is a tug of war about how much allowable growth there should be. In recent years, school districts have had to deal with 0 percent allowable growth.

Generally, state officials approve allowable growth a year in advance.

During 2012 Legislative session, the Legislature failed to set fiscal year 2014 allowable growth.

Gov. Terry Branstad recommended the Legislature delay setting the 2014 rate until the 2013 session, after work on the Teacher Leadership and Compensation task force was completed and acted upon in the 2013 Legislative session.

Conflicting sides

During the current Legislative session, the Iowa House has passed a 2 percent allowable-growth plan. The Iowa Senate has approved 4 percent allowable growth.

"Initially, Gov. Branstad wasn't interested in allowable growth, but has been acceptable with what has been looked at recently with some of his educational reform in place," Seid said. "Realistically, we can only be hopeful at this point."

Clarke Community School District has to certify its budget by April 15.

"Obviously, it makes it a challenge when you don't know what your school funding will be before you certify," Seid said.

Numerous school district in Iowa have approved the School Administrators of Iowa resolution.

Seid said the allowable growth situation has been difficult, but he is hopeful guidance from the state will come soon to allow the the school district to continue the education Clarke students and their families deserve.

However, there is always the reality that 0 percent allowable growth could happen again to Iowa school districts.

If that happens, Seid said, "We'll have to continue providing the highest-quality programs with less resources, and that's where you really put the pencil to the paper and be as creative as you can, without impacting instruction as much as possible."

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