Dubuque School District reacts to possible budget cuts - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque School District reacts to possible budget cuts

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DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- One of Governor Branstad's administration goals is to make Iowa's educational system number one in the nation and he talked about that Thursday during his budget proposal before Iowa Legislators in Des Moines. But he plans to do that with a smaller budget. And with no increase or decrease in school spending during the next two years.

Officials with the Dubuque Community School District are busy looking at the numbers.

"Last spring we looked at everything. We reduced staff we reduced programs we didn't eliminate any of those," Superintendent Dr. Larie Godinez said.

Each year Iowa lawmakers set a budget. In that budget, school districts are given a certain percentage of allowable growth. It sets the bar for how much money they can spend.

"So if we have a 6000 number for next year and we get 4 percent, percent times 6000 you get $240. So we'll be able to spend $240 more per student,' Director of Finances Ron Holm said.

District officials say if the state freezes their allowable growth for two years then the districts unspent balance drops below zero by 2014.

"Just zero percent allowable growth over the next two years doesn't give us many options. After next year we would have to tighten our belts and see what we need to do," Godinez said.

"Ultimately because we're people business it rolls down to some type of staffing changes," Human Resources Director, Stan Rheingans said.

83 percent of the districts current budget pays for administrators, staff and teachers. That leaves the remaining money to cover other costs, which aren't always fixed.

"There are so many of our costs that we have no control over. As everybody knows, insurance. We are anticipating double digit insurance increases," Godinez said.

Add to that overcrowded classes in several schools and teachers who already have a heavy workload.

"And with the increasing needs of our student population, it just makes it more and more difficult to address their needs," Godinez said.

Needs that district officials hope lawmakers take into consideration when they vote on budget cuts.

All of this talk does come after an increase in benefits costs that totaling $1.7 million more for the district than last year.

Online Reporter: Lauren Squires

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