School board approves the 2013-2014 budget estimate

The Fort Dodge Community School District board approved Wednesday a budget estimate for the 2013-14 school year.

“School revenues and other sources is $51,191, 000 and total expenditures are $50,366,000 for a total tax rate proposed of 15.45853,” Brandon Hansel, FDCSD director of financial services, said. “That’s roughly 3 percent less than where it stands right now.”

The proposed budget, Hansel said, is “an aggregate sum of all of our funds put together.”

“It has relative value to us in terms of how we govern our budget,” he said. “It’s main purpose is to comply with our statutory requirement, establish the maximum level of district spending and direct the county auditor to levy property taxes on our behalf.”

According to Doug Van Zyl, FDCSD superintendent, the district needs to make budget reductions and savings of nearly $2 million for the next school year.

General areas have already been investigated, including early retirement at the middle school and high school levels.

“We believe we’re going to be able to reduce about $945,000 out of the middle school, high school early retirement component,” he said.

Another $215,000 can be saved at the elementary level, and $130,000 at the administrative level, for a total of about $1.3 million in savings.

Changes to funding formulas will also mean more dollars to the district, Van Zyl said, including supplemental sharing. Teaching would be done with other districts through the Iowa Communications Network for an increase of $200,000.

A further $190,000 would be saved from state changes to spending through the Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency.

There are two areas, though, where there will be a dip in revenue. There will be $34,000 less next year for preschool and at-risk dollars, at about $1.2 to $1.4 million yearly, will likely be reduced.

According to Van Zyl, expenditures are being looked at.

“Our administrators are working very hard not to expend dollars if they really felt it wasn’t necessarily a need right now,” he said. “We believe that we can save about $473,000, possibly a little more, by not expending dollars this year.”

These savings and reductions amount to about $2 million, Van Zyl said. Other factors, though, remain before the budget is finalized. Settlements have not been considered yet, as they have not been completed. The state has not made a decision on allowable growth. And the impact of proposed state education reforms has not been determined.

“I feel our administrators, those folks work very hard to look at what they can do to try to maintain programs and positions, but I think we’re also up front in telling you from the beginning, this does not go without some pain being involved,” Van Zyl said.

This is the second year there will be $2 million in reductions. Last school year, the district was faced with a $1.7 million shortfall, met with reductions in staff and by restructuring.

“Sooner or later, those things can become impactful,” Van Zyl said.

No actions have been taken yet and the budget has not yet been finalized.

A public hearing on the budget will be held April 1, 6 p.m. at the district administration building at 104 S. 17th St.