Davenport School Board approves five-year plan, cuts on the horizon

DAVENPORT, Iowa-- During its meeting Monday, Nov. 5, The Davenport School Board approved its five-year plan, 5-2.

Board President Ralph Johanson emphasized that this is a "fluid" plan that can change based on different circumstances, such as changing enrollment numbers and state funding.

The new five-year plan had several major changes from the previous revision in August 2018.

The latest plan cuts 32 additional certified staff members (over 50 in total) over the course of five years. Certified staff includes teachers, some coaches, counselors, and nurses.

Over 90 positions would be cut through early retirement incentives and position consolidations over five years, saving the district over $5.5 million.

The district is looking at outsourcing starting next school year. That could save $250,000 a year.

High school students would see tradition scheduling starting in Fall 2020 rather than block scheduling, saving $1.3 million.

Still on the table, the board will revisit school closings or consolidations for the 2021-2022 school year. This would save the district $1.3 million and cut 17 full-time employees.

And the district is looking at outsourcing some positions starting in 2019. That could save $250,000 a year.

Several board members expressed hesitation about voting for the plan but said they voted for it knowing some of these changes might not happen.

"It's something that we need to do to move forward," Interim Superintendent TJ Schneckloth says. "And I think the overwhelming sense that it's a fluid document, that all of those items on there will be voted on in the future, gives [the school board members] the confidence to move forward."

This plan is somewhat dependent on Tuesday's elections. The five-year plan is based on a one percent increase in state funding. Iowa Democrats are proposing a two-five percent increase, while Iowa Republicans have approved a less than two percent increase.

The board had to vote on this plan sometime this week to meet a Friday deadline. The School Budget Review Committee, part of the Iowa Department of Education, will review the plan and meeting with district administrators in December.

The district has been under close watch after former superintendent Art Tate overspent the budget in 2015. The district has to get its budget balanced by 2022. This plan puts it on track to do so.