Registration for Sioux City Community Schools' early retirement - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

Registration for Sioux City Community Schools' early retirement program begins Wednesday

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SIOUX CITY (KTIV) -

The school board took action, Monday night, to deal with a deficit that could total $3-million dollars.

Starting Wednesday, certain full-time employees in the Sioux City Community School District will be eligible to apply for an early retirement program.

Of the 45 employees that will take advantage, the district likely won't fill as many as 20 of those jobs.

Another cost saving measure is what Superintendent Paul Gausman calls the "collaboration" of the middle school reading program with other classes.

That would eliminate reading as a stand-alone class.

The early retirement program, which is meant to help deal with a multimillion dollar deficit, was approved by the board, Monday night, on a 5-to-2 vote.

"An early retirement program is put in place when you know you're going to reduce staff because what you can do is you can value those long-time staff members," said superintendent Dr. Paul Gausman.

Superintendent Dr. Paul Gausman attributes the plan to what he calls low or no growth in school budgets permitted by the legislature each year for the past decade.

"The system is built so that we've got increased costs that have exceeded that allowable growth and that has caused us to have to make some very difficult decisions with our budget," said Gausman.

So what exactly is allowable growth?

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

Education spending, for K-12 schools, makes up 43 percent of the state budget. And, last fiscal year, the legislature compromised on $138-million in increased funding, or 2.25 percent allowable growth.

"The legislature over the last several years, in particular the House GOP, has failed to set that in the manner that they are required to do so by law," said Rep. Chris Hall, (D) Sioux City. "That in turn has made it very difficult for local school boards to make funding decisions and to know what type of funding is coming from the state in a fashion that also allows them to set contracts and to set wages and to know who's going to be on staff for the coming school year."

But one Republican lawmaker from Fort Dodge, who is on the state education committee says, they are treating education as a priority.

"We love education," said Sen. Tim Kraayenbrink, (R) Forth Dodge. "That's what our future's going to be about here in the state of Iowa and you know, the problem is revenues have been going down every single year. Four years ago we had almost a billion dollars in the savings account. So, now what our problem is is that we have spent that billion dollars and we're down to no savings account anymore."

Gausman says the district is not asking for a specific amount of allowable growth until they know more about the revenue coming into the state.

"We do know that where we receive three-percent or greater allowable growth or supplemental state aid , we would not need the kind of budget reductions we're talking about here."

Dr. Gausman says the plan they've put together will save the district's general fund between $1.8 million and $2-million next fiscal year.

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