Officials from the Alta School District will pare back on spending for the rest of the 2001-2002 school year as a 4.3 percent cut in state aid will result in $92,007 less dollars for the school district to work with.
The issue was discussed at Monday afternoon's monthly school board meeting, in which Alta Superintendent Fred Maharry, Elementary Principal Maxine Lampe, Secondary Principal Ron Mueller and school board members talked about the situation and ways to remedy the cost for this year and in upcoming years where the school's budget will have to be trimmed due to the across-the-board state cutbacks.
Maharry said the district's goal will be to focus reductions on areas which least affect students and their ability to learn effectively in the Alta school system.
"We have to save as much as we can without harming students," Maharry said. "I don't want this to affect our students negatively in any way, and I think we can look at things that don't harm our students."
The situation in Alta is being played out in school districts across the state, as both small and large education systems are being affected by the education cuts.
According to the Iowa Department of Education, Newell-Fonda will lose $61,979, Galva-Holstein will see a reduction of $70,517, Aurelia's budget will be cut by $44,007, Albert City-Truesdale will lose $34,000 and Schaller-Crestland will face a decrease of $64,635 in the school budget.
Larger schools will face even larger losses due to higher student enrollment. Council Bluffs will lose $1.6 million, Sioux City will see a decrease of $2.5 million, Spencer will lose $316,000, Storm Lake's budget will go down by $307,800 and Cherokee will lose $188,000.
Some of the immediate ramifications of the budget reductions in Alta will be a decline in staff travel and field trips for the rest of the year, and overtime hours for faculty and staff will be very closely monitored and approved only in advance.
Beginning next year, all associate positions will be evaluated by administration officials in both the elementary and secondary schools, and there will be no new textbook series purchases for the 2002-2003 academic year.
Funds for all extracurricular activities may be curtailed starting next fall, and there will also be one less fifth/sixth grade teacher, as the number of instructors in that area will be scaled back from five to four.
In addition, some positions in agricultural studies and industrial technology may be evaluated once the '01-02 school year is completed.
Lampe said she has kept all of her teachers in the elementary school up to date on the recent fiscal problems, and she said they realize this is a statewide problem, not just something that is affecting Alta.
"The teachers know what's coming, and they will be adjusting to that," Lampe said. "They're aware of what the situation with state reductions is."
Some new technology purchases and textbook updates have already been processed for the 2002-2003 school year, and those acquisitions cannot be reversed at this time.
In addition, Phase III money, which used to be set aside specifically for school and Area Education Association development, can now be used more flexibly by each school district. For example, Phase III money could now be used to pay bills for electricity or for necessary school supplies in Alta.