District Responds to Governor’s Call for 10% Budget Reduction

In response to the 10 percent across-the-board budget reduction directed by Gov. Chet Culver, Des Moines Public Schools will be looking for areas to cut a total of about $17.5 million.

“We’re in the same situation as everyone else, and while not unexpected, this cut is even more than we anticipated,” said Superintendent Nancy Sebring. “Unfortunately, this is just the latest in a series of budget challenges we’ve had to face since 2001, and that cumulative effect means we’re trying to find financial flesh on a bone that’s already been picked clean.”

According to DMPS Chief Financial Officer Patti Schroeder, the district reductions include $15.75 million in state foundation aid, plus a decline in interest income from short-term investments of about $350,000, in addition to cutbacks from other state categorical grants, and indirect flow-through money from other agencies for preschool and special education.

“The largest decrease we’ll feel is from the loss of state foundation aid, which equals $410.80 per student,” explained Schroeder.

Many, if not all, of the measures that were implemented as a result of the last fiscal year’s 1.5 percent across-the-board are still in force, according to Schroeder, including the elimination of purchases of non-essential supplies and equipment, and out-of-district, non-grant-funded travel.

“During the last round of reductions we were able to ensure services and educational programs were largely untouched. This time, everything is subject to review and there are no guarantees that will occur again,” said Sebring.

District leaders and administrators will spend the next several weeks reviewing all the options to develop the plan for accommodating the new budget.