School budget cuts: Breaking down the numbers - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

School budget cuts: Breaking down the numbers

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by John Wilmer

INDEPENDENCE (KWWL) - In these tough economic times cuts are coming fast and furious that impacts us all. According to the Iowa's Department of Education 69 percent, nearly three quarters of the school districts in the state, reported a decrease in certified enrollment this fall.

One example, the Olin Consolidated School District in Jones County, enrollment dropped 30 percent. So what does this mean, besides a smaller number students? When you have lower enrollment it means less state and federal funding. With less funding, cuts have to be made to balance budgets.

Students of the Independence School District braved the bitter cold this morning to try and save their school and protest the possible loss of several popular programs as well as some valuable teachers.

About 100 students rallied around the school's administration office. At the beginning of the year, state leaders cut aid to schools and in Independence they are feeling the pinch.   

"I think that it is an awful statement that our representatives are saying that education needs to take the brunt of the cuts when education and students are our future," Independence Senior, Michelle Hunter said.

The Independence School District must cut around $750,000 from its budget. The following year they may also have cut an additional $300,000. To make ends meet the district will eliminate around 13 full time positions as well as a number of popular programs.

"We've had a declining enrollment for 12 consecutive years and we are at the point we have nothing left and we're looking at people. 80 percent of our budget is made up of staff with salaries and benefits and there is really no other place to go then staff at this point," Independence Superintendent Devin Embray said.

Students say they understand that these cuts must happen, but they just disagree on where they will be taking place."

"We're just trying to save some of the more vital programs like English and Advanced English and Advanced Industrial Tech because those are the classes that are really going to impact somebody's future of getting into college or getting a job right after college." Independence Senior, Kelly Sebetka said.

"This peaceful demonstration is a sign of our students being very actively involved in what they believe in and I can't take that away from them... I respect that," Superintendent Embray said.

When Governor Culver ordered a 1.5 percent reduction in state aid at the beginning of the year, the Independence School District lost over $100,000 in funding.

Online Reporter: John Wilmer

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