Davenport Superintendent: ‘I knew the consequences but someone had to stand up and do it’

Davenport schools’ superintendent, Dr. Art Tate, is still unsure if he will have a job in education come June.

Dr. Tate is being investigated by the Iowa State Board of Education for illegally dipping into the district’s reserve funds to help pay for unequal funding in schools.

Davenport is one of many school districts in the state that gets less money per pupil funding.

In total – Dr. Tate has spent about 2.6 million dollars of reserve funds. That equals out to about $175 per student to be equal in funding with other districts.

“That’s against the law because it tells us how much we can spent and I spent more. In December 2016, the Department of Education in Iowa made an ethics complaint against me to the Board of Educational Examiners and they investigated and found probably cause and sent me to a hearing,” admitted Dr. Tate.

The hearing was planned for next week with the Iowa Board of Educational Examiners but because of ongoing legislation and work being done on the budget, the hearing was put off until June.

We had breakfast with Dr. Tate on Good Morning Quad Cities and asked him about how he’s feeling ahead of the hearing.

“I knew what the ultimate could be and I would like to not use my license. I worked to serve my country and now in education and don’t want to end on that tone but someone had to stand up and do it,” said Dr. Tate

If he does lose his license, Dr. Tate will not be able to work in education again. The district would then have to move an assistant superintendent to become interim superintendent.

Dr. Tate said he knew the consequences of dipping into reserves but had no other choice.

“We’ve been working for four years to try and get legislation. The whole reason I did this was to draw attention to unequal funding. Last year we finally had a bill- The senate file 455 that passed unanimously in the senate and went to the house,” said Dr. Tate.

That bill still sits in the house because of the funding situation in Iowa.

Dr. Tate hopes it will move during this year’s legislative session and the unequal funding formula will be fixed.

Dr. Tate and other Iowa superintendents will head to Des Moines next Wednesday to lobby for equal school funding.

During the interview, Dr. Tate also mentioned new District of Distinction plans in 2018, which are:

  • A creative arts academy expansion, which helps art students dabble in arts
  • Dual graduation at Davenport North High School which helps students graduate high school and get an associate’s degree through Scott Community College at the same time
  • Career school at West High School

There are also plans in the works to build a baseball diamond for Davenport Central near the Brady Street area.

Special thank you to Cinnamon-N-Sage in Davenport for hosting this weeks Breakfast With.