Davenport School Board approves cuts ahead of state-imposed deadline

DAVENPORT, Iowa-- The Davenport School Board approved $13 million in cuts for next school year and budget reductions over the next five years.

The board has been on a tight deadline after realizing it had to have a two-year plan that gets the budget balanced and the paperwork had to be to the state by Thursday, Nov. 29. Board members met every day this week to adjust the five-year plan and consolidate cuts to make-up the $13 million the district has overspent in the past.

Eighty-three certified positions will be cut next year. The district will reduce three bus routes. Administrative services and special education will also see slimmer budgets.

"We are doing everything we can to become right size. And we've made administrative reductions. We've been doing that every year," interim superintendent TJ Schneckloth says. "This has been coming. It's faster than we want it to."

The board approved a five-year plan which will revisit school closings, consolidation and the outsourcing of some jobs.

Several board members said Thursday they were not in favor of the budget plan but rather understood they had to pass it in order to meet a state-imposed deadline.

The state's School Budget Review Committee (SBRC) has been working to get the Davenport schools back on budget after former superintendent overspent the budget and dipped into the reserves. The board has presented several budgets to the SBRC in the past. The SBRC will review the budget and give feedback during a Dec. 11 meeting.

Staci Hupp, the Chief of Bureau Communications and Information Services with the Iowa Department of Education, says the department will also make a "Phase II" visit to the school district next year.

"Phase I" was completed earlier this year when the Department of Ed reviewed the special education program and investigated disproportionately within the district, where black students were reprimanded and placed in special ed programs for behavioral programs at higher rates than non-black students.

Phase II will revisit these areas, school programming and the budget as well for possible ethics violations.