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IV out $313,000 in state cuts

By NICK NARIGON

The Iowa Valley School District is trying to determine how to deal with a 10 percent cut to its general fund.

Iowa Governor Chet Culver ordered a 10 percent cut to state funding Oct. 8. This will reduce the amount of state aid Iowa Valley receives by 10 percent for the rest of the fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2010.

Iowa Valley financial manager Lynda Johnson told the IV School Board Oct. 26 that the school district will be out approximately $313,000 in state revenue for the rest of the fiscal year.

The state aid can only be used to fund general fund expenditures, which is mostly teacher salaries and benefits, Johnson said. Since the school year is already underway, she said staff cannot be reduced. In addition, since the school district made staffing cuts two years ago, Johnson said the staffing at Iowa Valley is already about as low as it can get.

IV Superintendent Alan Jensen underwent heart surgery and has been out of the office. Johnson said he met with staff prior to his surgery explaining that expenditures will be monitored very closely.

“Unless a new student needs a textbook, the answer will be ‘no’ for just about every expenditure request,” Johnson said. “When (Jensen) is back we will sit down and see what other actions need to be taken.”

Superintendent Jensen is expected to know later this week when he will be able to return to work, Johnson said. They Iowa Valley School Board will then schedule a work session to be held prior to the Nov. 23 regular meeting to discuss the budget cuts.

Johnson said the 10 percent state cut comes just as the Iowa Valley School District was recovering from its last budget shortfall.

At the end of fiscal year 2007, the school district had a negative unspent balance of $278,000. At the end of fiscal year 2009, Johnson said the school district had a positive unspent balance of $110,000.

If it wasn’t for the 10 percent cut, Johnson said the school district would be on its way to a healthy positive unspent balance above $500,000.

“We are making progress. We would anticipate making more gains at the end of this fiscal year had we not had that 10 percent across the board cut,” Johnson said. “The more you have in the ending fund balance to act as a cushion and unspent balance is good. I can’t say enough about how important that is.”

In addition, Johnson said the school district is looking to have a slight decrease in local option sales tax revenue over the next few months.

Right now, the Iowa Valley School District receives $42,761 a month as revenue from one cent sales tax, Johnson said. The Iowa Department of Revenue projects Iowa Valley’s take will go down about $1,100 in November, she said. Three months after that, starting in the new year, Johnson said it is anticipated the district’s sales tax revenue will decrease by almost $13,000 a month, to about $30,000.

By May, June and July, Johnson said the local option sales tax revenue will be up to about $38,000 a month.

The local option sales tax revenue can only be spent on infrastructure needs. Johnson said the sales tax revenue is being used now to pay for the auditorium renovation project and a new copier.

The local option sales tax fund currently has approximately $709,000, Johnson said, the school district anticipates generating another $338,000 by the end of the fiscal year to have a total of approximately $1 million in revenue.

Johnson said the district still has to pay $55,000 to Garling Construction for the brick infill work in the auditorium and another $224,000 to Advanced Builders for the auditorium roof replacement project.

“Bottom line, that means we will have about $796,000 left that we can designate to work on the auditorium when the next phase of the project comes along,” Johnson said. “This is just to give the board an idea of how much money is in there. You haven’t decided for sure how you are going to spend it or where you are going to spend it, but this is just to give you an idea there will be approximately $800,000 in there.”

AUDITORIUM

The Iowa Valley School Board declined one change order request and approved a second Oct. 26 for the brick infill project in the high school auditorium.

IV Superintendent Alan Jensen asked Garling Construction to look at filling with brick two additional windows in the custodial closet and three windows in the chair storage area as well as one service door.

Garling submitted a change order totaling $8,364 to complete the additional work.

IV financial manager Lynda Johnson told the school board, in lieu of Jensen who could not attend the school board meeting, that after talking with the Iowa Valley maintenance staff, they thought they could do the work next spring.

The Iowa Valley School Board unanimously voted to not approve the change order request of $8,364.

Also, Johnson said superintendent Jensen recommended the board to not approve the change order request because when the brick was approved initially, it was not ordered. When the brick was finally ordered, the supplier had run out, Johnson said.

So Iowa Valley had to bring in additional samples to see if they could order brick that matched the brick already in place.

When the new brick was finally ordered, Johnson said there was enough brick to complete the original brick infill project in the auditorium, but not enough brick to complete the additional windows and door.

“So Alan is recommending not to do these additional doors and windows until next spring, but to go ahead and approve the additional cost of the new brick we selected this month.”

The new brick cost an additional $1,584 more than the original estimate, Johnson said.

Iowa Valley School Board member Mark Swift said Garling Construction should have provided satisfactory brick in the first place and the school district should not have to pay the change order request of $1,584.

“Why didn’t they bid the right brick to start with?” Swift said. “Where is this our fault?”

The school board voted 4-1 to approve the change order request of $1,584.

ANNUAL PROGRESS REPORT

Iowa Valley Elementary Principal Cindy Miller reported to the school board Oct. 26 that she had been given the incorrect test data for the Iowa Valley students standardized test scores. Miller had presented that data to the school board at the Sept. 21 meeting.

In fact, Miller said the Iowa Valley School District met all of their goals for the Annual Progress Report to the Iowa Department of Education.

In the reading section of the standardized tests, the number of Iowa Valley fourth graders testing at a proficient level dropped slightly from 83.3 percent to 80.56 percent. The percentage of eighth graders proficient in reading rose dramatically from 48.89 percent in 2007-2008 to 66.67 percent in 2008-2009. The number of 11th graders testing proficient in reading improved from 53.7 percent to 72.05 percent.

In the math section of the standardized tests, the percentage of fourth graders proficient in math again decreased slightly from 83.33 percent to 80.56 percent. The eighth graders once again improved significantly by going from 66.66 percent proficient to 84.32 percent proficient. The number of 11th graders proficient in math also increased slightly, going from 72.22 percent to 73.52 percent.

In the science section of the standardized tests, only the Iowa Valley eighth graders improved their scores. The 2008-2009 eighth grade class tested 80 percent proficient, while the previous year’s class tested 55.56 percent proficient. The fourth graders dropped from 97.5 percent to 86.11 percent. The 11th grade class dropped from 77.78 percent proficient in science to 72.06 percent proficient.

UPDATED November 4, 2009 12:11 PM

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