Balancing ICCSD Budget at Students’ Expense

Guest Opinion

Balancing ICCSD Budget at Students’ Expense

As discussed at the 2/11/14 Board work session, the ICCSD is coming up short on funds. District Administration is quick to complain that revenues from the State (allowable growth) is not sufficient to meet our growing District and monetary appetite. The Administration states that controlling costs will be key. For many years I have called for fiscal responsibility on a broad range of District spending.

The best Administration has come up with to meet shortfalls in the General Fund is to encourage their veteran teachers to retire and to increase class size. The teachers are encouraged to obtain advanced degrees at their own expense and to perfect their art. Then when the District gets into a tight budget situation, those teachers are incentivized to retire so they can be replaced with less experienced instructors so the books can be balanced. The “cheaper teacher policy” goes against what many in this community value.

Here are some points the Administration and the ICCSD Board should consider:

  1. An immediate review of Administrative compensation and benefits. The District presently spends $6,224,300.00 for Administrative compensation. Why does the Superintendent make twice as much money as the Governor of Iowa? They both head non-profits and neither has a PhD. Can’t the District find a suitable candidate for this at-will hire for less? And closely look at the benefits given to Administration versus benefits given to the certified teachers and support staff.
  2. The District spends $12,540,732.00 for purchased services; there are examples of duplication of services and of individuals holding positions without the skills necessary to hold them. Why are there three (3) Physical Plant Directors yet hire out so much of the decision making to paid consultants? How many times has the District hired consultants to essentially get a read on the community (BLDD workshops)? Isn’t that an Administrative function anyway? Shouldn’t they know the community?
  3. The District purchases $7,861,751.00 of supplies and equipment; I hope everyone has read the Synesi report which is available on the District website. It wasn’t that long ago that the Administration provided monthly Synesi updates. What happened to those? While on the District website, try to find any mention of the Physical Plant. By the way, what is the Physical Plant budget?
  4. Board members need to fulfill their responsibilities to the community as auditors and fact checkers instead of Administration cheerleaders. The District would be better served by Board members paying close attention to consent agenda items and the budget rather than attending a National Convention (in New Orleans or wherever). Just because you have the money budgeted for it does not mean you need to spend it.

These are but a few areas that District leaders can consider.

In conclusion, every effort should be made first to ensure our students are provided with the most important educational tool in their classroom – which is a highly educated, motivated and inspiring teacher.

Thank You

Phil Hemingway