School passes 'blind' budget, waits for state action - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

School passes 'blind' budget, waits for state action

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -

How do you make a budget, when you don't know how much money is coming in?  That's the impossible situation the Sioux City Community School District has been facing since the beginning of the year.

Monday night, they adopted a budget they know is not likely to last.

The school board's president says they went into this budget blind.  They have no idea how much money they're getting from the state this year.

The State Senate passed a four-percent allowable growth, the House two-percent, and the Governor wants zero.      

Allowable growth is the amount a school district's budget can grow, in a single year, to account for increases in operational costs.

Monday, the school board adopted a budget with the maximum amount the state will give them, four-percent. If that holds, they'll add seven teachers, reduce class size, and, get new science and social studies books for the middle school.

However, the district had to make a lot of assumptions in coming to this $192-million budget.

"Without knowing what your total revenue is, the whole process becomes, in effect, a best guess," said the District's Chief Financial Officer, Gordon Winterlin.

The Taxpayers Research Council commended the board for doing the best with what they have.

For the first time since the '09 school year, the district has experienced an enrollment increase, 164 new students.

"That's a windfall of about one million dollars.  A million dollars can do a lot of good in a school district like this.  So, that's the good news.  We would have been in a much more precarious situation were it not for that increase in enrollment," explained School Board President Mike Krysl.

In all reality, the legislature's not going to pass the four-percent allowable growth.

So, the board is prepared to tell 37 of its teachers, nurses, counselors, and special education instructors that their positions are on the chopping block.

Affected personnel will be notified by April 30th.

The district expects they'll have to meet back in June or July, after state lawmakers have passed their own budget, to determine how deep the cuts will go.

The district's already seen the impact of sequestration.  The federal cuts will eliminate up to 12 teachers.  Beyond the Bell and other programs will also be reduced.

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