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Davenport school budget reflects state stalemate

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Davenport schools will have a new budget that includes more than $3.2 million in cuts. That's after the school board voted six to one on Friday for the nearly $257 million budget.

Board member NIkki DeFauw cast the only "no" vote.

"We shouldn't be held to certify a budget without knowing what funds we have available," she said.

There's frustration for school board members on deadline for a deal.

"I still have no confidence in our legislature," said Board President Ralph Johanson. "They can't get their work done, and I think it's sad."

Mandated to approve a new budget by April 15 but logjammed by Iowa lawmakers.

"Extreme times call for extreme measures," said DeFauw.

The state still wavering on school funding. Lawmakers are hung up over Governor Terry Branstad's reform proposals and the link to state funding for local districts.

"It's nice that they can go home and take a recess for the weekend," said board member Ken Krumwiede. "But here we sit on Friday noon, trying to make decisions."

Decisions that leave the district with more than $3.2 million in cuts. The biggest chunk, $2 million, comes from its insurance fund. Davenport will also cut early retirement incentives and some bus service.

"The departments are going to have a 5% across the board reduction," said Dr. Art Tate, Davenport superintendent. "They're going to have to tighten their belts. That's not the schools. It's administrative departments."

In Davenport, cuts are designed to spare classroom impact. But with uncertainty at the state level, it makes it tougher to accomplish.

The district is left waiting if it will get anywhere from zero to four percent allowable growth from Iowa.

"Bottom line, we're talking about people here," said board member Patt Zamora. "Every time we make a cut, we're affecting people. We're affecting kids. We're affecting jobs -- good jobs in the community."

Even with a budget, frustration for a school district left on hold by the state.