Washington Evening Journal
http://washington-ia.villagesoup.com/p/987627

Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 23, 2014

State plan discussed

School board learns of growth proposal
By Xiomara Levsen | Apr 11, 2013
Washington Community School District School board members Ericka Raber, Sheryl Lewis, and Stephanie Ellingson wait for the board meeting to get under way at the Brighton Community Center on April 10.

There might be a compromise on the education reform bill between the Iowa House and Senate.
Washington Community School District (WCSD) superintendent Dr. Mike Jorgensen let the board members know what the compromise would include, if passed, Wednesday.
“About five o’ clock I got an e-mail that was sent to superintendents statewide,” Jorgensen said. “There was some action legislatively today. Apparently there was a proposal from the House to the Senate on education reform. They were offering 2 percent growth this year, with 4 percent growth next year, with a 2 percent stipend this year.”
Jorgensen said this compromise is contingent on whether or not the Senate accepts the House’s language in their education reform proposal. Jorgensen went on to explain what the stipend means for the district.
“In other words, we would get 4 percent this year but that extra 2 percent doesn’t carry over,” Jorgensen said. “It’s a one-year gift.”
He said in actuality the district would be getting 7 percent if this proposal for the education bill were passed. Jorgensen said the e-mail said the Senate immediately went into subcommittee after that.
“From what I’m understanding, too, the language of the House version is preferable to the Senate version,” Jorgensen said. “It looks like a pretty good situation for us if it unfolds that way.”
According to Jorgensen, the Washington School District wouldn’t have to amend its budget for the 2013-14 school year.
“It will automatically be done by the department of management,” Jorgensen said. “They will notify us by July of what the rate will be.”
Highland Community School District superintendent Chris Armstrong is very excited about the compromise proposal.
“I’m very pleased with the allowable growth in the latest version,” Armstrong said. “This would only affect us positively. Four percent allowable growth would be very nice.”
Highland Community School District, like many other Iowa school districts, has been dealing with budget shortfalls.
“This would help us begin to recover from the past,” Armstrong said.
Like WCSD, Highland wouldn’t have to amend its budget either.
“We set everything high,” Armstrong said. “We would make an adjustment to the cash levy to bring it back down to $16.50 (per $1,000 assessed value) after they finalize it in the legislative session,” Armstrong said.
According to state code, districts are supposed to have their budgets finalized by April 15. Highland waited until April 8 to approve their budget because they have been waiting on the education reform bill. Armstrong said the district would be sending their budget to the county auditor today.
Superintendent of the Mid-Prairie School District Mark Schneider could not be reached for comment.

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