Board Approves 2016-17 School Budget with 95-cent Tax Increase
Waukee Community School District approved a $100 million budget for the 2016-17 school year at the the April 11 Board of Education Meeting. The budget includes 33 new full-time jobs to accommodate the district’s growth and to staff the two new buildings that will open later this fall, Grant Ragan Elementary School and Waukee Innovation and Learning Center.
On March 23, 2016 Iowa Legislature ratified a 2.25 percent increase in state spending for Iowa school districts. WCSD would have needed a 3 percent increase in state supplemental aid for the district to meet its expenses. While the general fund is currently in good financial health, multiple years of low funding combined with the district’s continued rapid enrollment growth and need for more facilities, show expenditures exceeding revenues in the near future.
In order to meet those needs, the approved budget also included a 95-cent tax increase. This raises the district’s tax rate to $17.65 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. This means homeowner will pay about $8.21 more a month in property taxes for a $200,000 house. Even with this increase, the district still has one of the lowest tax rates in the metro.
These additional funds will allow WCSD to increase its cash reserves by $6 million as it prepares to build a second high school.
Understanding School Finances
75-85% of the general fund expenditures for all schools relate to staffing costs. When it comes to staff numbers, Waukee Community School District spends 76% on staff salaries and benefits. It is one of the leanest districts in the state, as it currently ranks 337 of 346 in per pupil spending for salaries and benefits, and ranks 344 of 346 in administrative cost per pupil. This means only about two districts in the state of Iowa spend less on salaries and benefits per pupil than Waukee Community School District.
When WCSD began looking at the numbers and realized there was going to be a shortfall, the only thing left to cut was programs. In preparation for the anticipated low funding, the board unanimously approved approximately $1 million in program changes/reductions for the 2016-17 school year at the January 11, 2016 Board of Education Meeting. The goal of the reductions was to have the smallest impact possible on students, instruction and our core mission of education.
The Board asks parents and businesses to continue talk to Legislators and share how public education is helping your family. If the State doesn’t fund schools there will be more program cuts in the future.