The Little Hawk

Budget Cuts Hit City High

Cuts in government funds means the Iowa City Community School District will slash its budget for the next school year by millions of dollars

Shoshie Hemley, Reporter

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Without the necessary funds from the state government to deal with the growing expenses of the Iowa City Community School District, the 2019-2020 school year will be expecting a five million dollar funding cut for next school year. The cuts will be made to funding for staffing; physical projects, such as the renovations, will not be affected.

“84 cents out of every dollar goes to somebody in the district,” Superintendent Stephen Murley said. “So most of budget goes to certified staff, teachers, or care professionals in the class.”

Due to statewide lack of funding for the growing expenses of the district, certain changes will be implemented. The district has been encouraging teachers to take advantage of an early retirement program being offered. The program targets teachers and staff who will be at least 55 by June 30th, 2019 and who have been teaching with the district for a certain amount of years, at least 7 consecutively. The offer is a year’s worth of salary being paid after retirement as well as the district’s health insurance until the retiree is age 65. The retired teachers will then be replaced by teachers new to the career who will be earning a lower salary. Every year, teachers’ salaries grow. Older teachers who can qualify to retire will tend to have been working within the district for longer than younger teachers. The older teachers will be earning higher salaries, so if the district can replace them with younger teachers earning less, they can save a significant portion of the five million dollars.

“The district is going to make every effort to keep these changes away from the classroom, away from those direct services to kids. Whether or not that’s going to be possible, I think that remains to be seen,” Principal John Bacon said.

Until the district knows how many employees will be retiring early, the district will be unable to know how much more will be needed to cut. Without this knowledge, the direct effect it will have on City High students is unknown. If not enough staff retires for a significant portion of the five million dollars to be saved, than the cuts will be felt more directly  at a classroom level. Some anticipated changes are potentially larger classroom sizes district-wide on both the elementary and secondary levels, as well as some electives with low enrollment might be put on hold.

“If we have to make cuts at the building-level staffing, that’s going to be problematic and difficult. It’s my great hope that we are going to be successful at creating a plan to keep it away from having to do that,” Bacon said.

The state of Iowa has given the district 1% in supplemental aid, which is unable to keep up with the growing district. The district’s growing costs are higher than the funding being given by the state, resulting in the cuts.

While many district teachers understand the cuts, they are still disappointed with the loss of long time teachers.

“I’ll be sorry not to have their knowledge and experience around because I feel like I’m still learning from them. But I mean, I understand if the district needs to stay in business, then sometimes we have to do things, but it’ll be a loss to lose all the knowledge and experience,” a long time ICCSD teacher said.

She later stated, “I don’t want [to sound like I’m] putting down young teachers, because they are amazing, and they know things, and they make us all better teachers. But also there’s a lot of really great experienced teachers out there who are leaving the district because of this incentive.”

However, not everyone who was offered the incentive is taking it for varying reasons.

“As long as I have something to offer the students. I want to keep [teaching] as long as I can. It gives meaning to my life,” the same long time ICCSD teacher said.

Although this may seem nerve wracking to district employees, Murley believes that the local legislature has the situation under control and are aware of the issues, and Bacon believes that the surrounding community supports the need of education.

“By and large, the Iowa City area is represented by people that typically have a strong commitment to public education funding,” Bacon said. “Unfortunately, in other parts of the state, there’s opposition to that and I think that in terms of why there hasn’t been funding for public education at a higher level, I’m not sure I would look at the Iowa City contingent of the state legislature and point the finger at them.”

Some students believe that public education needs to be prioritized by the state government.  

“It seems like they’re not prioritizing what we need efficiently,” Kate Wolfe ‘21 said. “We’re going to be the future. It’s obviously what everyone says, but it’s true. We need education because we’re going to be the next lawmakers, the next government. It’s just necessary.”

Bacon agrees that the state government needs to focus more funding on public education.

“When I was a kid, the motto in the state of Iowa was ‘a place to grow,’ and I thought that was the most beautiful motto. It’s the two things we do really well. It’s kind of a double meaning. It’s a place to grow corn and farming,and it’s also a place to grow families. It’s a place to grow young people,” Bacon said. “We might not have an ocean in the state of iowa and we might not have an NFL football team or a mountain range or a super big city but we have always had in this state a great commitment to being a great place to raise your family.”

He believes that the state of Iowa needs strong funding for public education in order to continue being a “place to grow”.

“[Public education is] one thing that the state of iowa should just take care of at the highest possible level. We can not sacrifice our public schools in this state. Its an invaluable resource that we have,” Bacon said.

The next steps for the district remain unknown until the district is aware of how much needs to be cut. Whether or not future cuts will need to be made depends on the state government.

“Believe me, I fight hard for this school. That’s the bottom line. I fight hard for City High when it comes to advocating for what’s best for this building,”  Bacon said. “So I will go into the process doing everything possible to keep budget cuts as far away from direct services to students as humanly possible, I can promise you that.”

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2 Comments

2 Responses to “Budget Cuts Hit City High”

  1. Jack Kennedy on February 20th, 2019 1:56 pm
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    John Bacon for state legislator! Or… WWAED? What Would Acey Earle Do?

  2. Ashley E Humpleby on February 21st, 2019 1:48 am
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    I totally understand on having teachers an having them teach students and all. But what if The school System design and development of a new APP or a online courses. And the students who can afford to pay for the APP or online courses. Can pay for it an do it at home, I mean come on everyone now has a smart phone or a tablet or a laptop. Just make online courses for each grade and have all the information be contained in the school system. This would fix the issue of money and would not have to worry about kids dropping out. And if they don’t understand a subject then they can drive or walk or have a parent drive them to school for a few hours. Then it would also fix the gap of snow days, cause there be doing it at home. The App or online course would be covering everything that would be covered in the classroom, and it would be ineractive so the students will be more in gaged to actually want to get there diploma. And they can do it at there own paste.
    The courses would cover, all the grades 9 th through the 12th grade subjects. Like:All the Math, History, Goverment,Reading, writing, language Arts and a few ala cart options like AP courses and Spanish and french.
    And the lunch number that everyone has would be the password for the app or website. That number would contain your name , year of school grade. This would be around of $185.00 for Everything grades 9th through 12th. But for each year at a time would be around $47.00.

    Or… Actually have Junior an Seniors actually get jobs that the school system can partner with companies around the community like Hyvee, mcdonalds, walgreens, the university, public Library, walmart, culverts, preschools. Then 2 or 3 weeks before Graduation they go to there home room an type up a resume an cover letter of what they want to do for there future.
    Ditch the ACT that’s old an out dated an it’s not even worth the effort. Plus there is 0 zero history on those test. They don’t have any worth on what is the most valuable information about who you are.
    Plus school is to teach new ideas right, so why does it seem like all the text books have names of kids form 10 years ago. School should change the way the information you actually need for a future not useless facts that you will never need or have 0 use for.
    If you want to change the generation then maybe try and change the subject to actually apply to other careers other then teaching, math, science and history. That’s all your doing is teaching about careers of math or history or science teacher and nothing else.

    No wonder this Generation is al kinds of crazyness.

    That’s all I have too say.
    I mean almost all high school kids could care less about the norm, but there more of engaged community if you get them on there wireless devices. I mean take a moment to thank of all the apps that you see your kids on fruit nijia, snowboarding , Sim city, minecraft, puzzle games that you can time yourself on, pool games. For your kids they didn’t have a teacher to teach them these they picked them on there own. Some games are that you can cook food or own your own pet grooming an groom people’s animals. These may seem like worthless games to adults with to busy lives to even think about it… but really the child picked it from there interest an they will eventually learn what they can do an what they can not do on the game. And watching movies with the subtitles on will help there reading comprehension.

    Just take a moment to thank it all over.
    You might not have to Ditch as many teachers of what you may think. And the young teachers can make study groups that come in together to a classroom to dicuss any mistakes understanding of the course of whatever the most students are having a hard time understanding.

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Budget Cuts Hit City High