Schools on state funding: "Something's got to give" - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Schools on state funding: "Something's got to give"

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Dubuque (KWWL) -- Iowa schools will be getting an increase in state funding thanks to a new bill -- but is it enough? For the 2010-2011 school year, the state will give schools a two percent increase in allowable growth.

In recent years, it's been a four percent increase each year. Now, some administrators say the quality of education in our state could suffer.

Some administrators in the Dubuque Community Schools say they can't operate at the same level when funding isn't keeping up with rising costs. Allowable growth puts money in the general budget, mostly for teacher salaries and benefits.

This year, schools get nearly $5,800 in state aid per student. Next year, with a four percent rise in allowable growth, schools will get about $230 more. But the year after, the increase is around $115 more per student.

That will add about $3.6 million to Dubuque's budget for 2010-2011, but district officials say operating costs, like utilities and bussing, are going up faster than funding increases allow.

The district only has spending control over $1.2 million for operating budgets. The other $2.4 is controlled by the state for things like teacher programs.

Now, district officials say they'll have to use cash reserves and make cuts, likely in school supplies or staffing.

"We can't do the same job with substantially less funding, so ultimately it certainly will affect the quality of education. Whether it's in support staff services area we provide to students or in classroom environment itself, something has to give," Director of Finance and Business Services Ron Holm said.

The district is still trying to deal with more than two million in budget cuts for next year, and for now a four percent increase in state aid is still slated for next school year though legislators could reconsider.

Representative Pat Murphy of Dubuque says the legislature faced tough decisions in balancing the state's budget and a two percent increase was fiscally responsible while still giving schools a funding increase. Murphy said it's important to keep quality of education high even in a tough economy.

Online Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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