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Davenport School Board approves $180 million budget, waits for word on dipping into reserves

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Next year's budget for the Davenport School District is unanimously approved at $180.8 million, but there are still questions about what's to come in the future.

The deadline to approve a budget is April 15th, and board members wanted to hear from the public about their budget choices. During a public hearing, there was only silence.

"What was going on was rather complex. I think we`ve been talking about the budget for a long time, so maybe people are tired of hearing about it. I`m not sure," Davenport School Board President Ralph Johanson said.

Even board members didn't weigh in, although they've spoken at length on the budget during meetings over the past few months.

The approved budget will take care of the basic needs of the district, but did include some difficult one-time cuts of over $4 million.

"Most of those cuts are very distasteful. Next year, they will be even worse and it`s going to affect a lot of students and parents," Johanson said.

The budget for next year may have been approved, but that doesn`t end the discussion about money going into the next school year, especially when it comes to state law.

Superintendent Art Tate has made it clear he wants to increase the spending per student, and dip into the reserve funds to do just that.

"It`s very important that he go ahead and follow through. He`s a man of integrity and he says this is what he`s going to do, and it`s going to happen," Johanson said.

The board won't know if this will even be needed until September, leaving a big question over them through the summer.

"We haven`t done anything illegal yet, so until that happens and they`re aware of it, they won`t take a guess on what the consequences will be," Johanson said.

The budget process for this year is done, but that doesn't end the anxiety the board will face when it comes to district money.

While not going into specifics on cuts that could be coming, Johanson did say that next year's budget process could be even more frustrating than this time around, which is why he says they're planning on starting budget talks before this school year even ends.

Last week, Iowa lawmakers approved a new school funding increase of 2.25%, which means an extra $2.2 million for the Davenport School District. School leaders won't know how it will impact this upcoming budget until a state report is released in May.