SC School District's budget looking bright - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

SC School District's budget looking bright

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SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) -

As a child, you probably didn't think too much about how your grade school education was being funded, but it's something lawmakers and school leaders must think about often.

That's because learning comes at a cost to the taxpayer and to the state. As Iowa's state representatives work out their budget in Des Moines, lawmakers said education is a top priority.

"I think there's a lot of places that we're putting investments this year that reflect what we heard from constituents. First and foremost is education. We think that K through 12 schools is always a sound investment," Democratic State Representative Chris Hall said.

"For fiscal year '15, we're going to be allocating over 200-million dollars of additional funding for schools. That's a 4-percent state supplemental aid increase," Republican State Representative Ron Jorgensen said.

Iowa schools are funded per pupil and the district has more students this year.

"When you're funded on a per pupil basis and you've grown in pupils, it certainly helps," Sioux City Schools Superintendent Dr. Paul Gausman said.

Gausman said the district has grown by more than 350 students in the past two years, and for the first time in several years, he feels good about where the budget is headed.

"We've had very difficult budget seasons. This particular budget season is the most optimistic we've ever had and that's true for a number of reasons," Gausman said.

Along with the supplemental aid increase and the growing student population, Sioux City Schools were among 39 districts chosen out of 140 in the state that applied for an education reform grant. It's worth over four million dollars.

"It takes some of the best teachers in the district, turns them in to lead teachers, model teachers, mentors, to help other teachers improve their instruction," Jorgensen said.

More than 40 new leadership positions in the district will be filled over the next two weeks with current staff members.

"They were able to get some additional funding to hire more teachers," Democratic State Representative David Dawson said.

In fact, the district will open up more than 30 new teaching positions.

Because of the improved financial forecast, the district's proposed tax levy is 16-cents lower than last year.

The new levy is project to be 16-dollars and 52-cents for every 105-thousand dollars in property owned.

The board has until April 15 to approve the budget.

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