The West Des Moines Community School District is entrusted with two very important jobs – the education of the children of our community and the management of taxpayers’ investment in that education.
We take both extremely seriously, and sometimes tough decisions have to be made.
Over the past several years, school districts in Iowa have been faced with stagnant revenue growth or even cuts in state funding while costs continue to increase. Districts have also been faced with mandates from the state and federal level to implement programs or activities without any additional money to accomplish the added requirements. The 2013 Iowa legislature recognized some of these challenges by providing a 2 percent increase in Supplemental State Aid (formerly allowable growth) and a one-time 2 percent increase in additional funding.
Expenditures in our district were greater than revenues in 2009 and 2010. Budget projections last year for our district indicate that expenses will again be greater than income this year and in future years, unless costs are reduced.
Due to the budget situation, I am faced with putting together a budget reduction process. The process needs to involve a variety of our stakeholders. I would like to share the process we plan to use this school year between November through March.
The decision-making process I plan to use is called Tregoe, also known as Kepner-Tregoe, the method uses a step-by-step approach to set objectives, organize and prioritize information, evaluate options and understand the impact of possible choices. It was developed by RAND Corp. researchers Charles H. Kepner and Benjamin B. Tregoe in 1958 and is used by a variety of industry sectors, including education.
I plan to involve district-level administrators, the school board, principals, teachers, support personnel and parents in the process. In addition, teachers, staff, parents and community members will be provided an opportunity to offer feedback on the proposed final cost-cutting package.
These conversations are not easy to have, but one of the most important jobs I have as a superintendent is to make sure your investment in our schools is not only fiscally well-managed, but also helps us meet the needs of all students. Your input on the effort is key to its success. I know we will work together as a community to continue to accomplish both goals.