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A Message from Mr. Ridder, Superintendent

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Many people have the impression that the only way that schools accumulate money is through local property taxes. Local property taxes are used, but they only cover about 35% of the annual school budget.  Between 40% and 50% of the budget comes from state aid. For the school year 2019-20 this averages $6,500.00 per student. It is important to note that Special Education students are funded at a higher rate; sometimes up to 3.75 times the average student.


The rest of the funds for the annual budget comes from state and federal grants.  Grant money comes with restrictions that limit how we can spend the money.  Grant money cannot be used for every day expenses, rather they are earmarked for specific purposes. A good example of this is the Teacher Leadership and Compensation Grant. The money from this grant can only be used to fund activities that support teacher leadership in our schools. When you read that the government is allocating X amount of dollars on schools every year, it is prudent to understand that a good percentage of the funds are not easily accessible, nor is the spending at the discretion of the district. 


Another source of revenue that we are able to utilize is through  the Secure and Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE) account. This account is also called the One Cent Fund in that every transaction that includes state sales tax, one cent of the tax goes to SAVE. These funds are collected statewide and distributed across the state to all school districts according to the number of students in the district. The funds from this account can only be used for school infrastructure purposes. Basically, school infrastructure means the brick and mortar of our school. Examples include: roof repair, boiler replacement, and classroom renovations. Other major purchases we are able to make from SAVE include transportation (buses, cars, vans) and technology (iPads and computers).  


Is how we fund education in Iowa fair and adequate to meet the needs of our students? This is a question that comes up annually at the state level. Unfortunately, school funding has become a contentious issue that is often debated along party lines. During the past two fiscal cycles, schools have only received a 2.1 percent increase. This has not kept up with inflation, which has been about 4.6 percent annually during this time frame. I do believe that all involved want what is best for kids, they just have different ways of getting there. 


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