SL schools ask more funds to help prevent dropouts

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Storm Lake Board of Education has set increased spending authority for dropout prevention.

Superintendent Carl Turner recommended that the board set a modified allowable growth amount at $692,910 for the 2018-19 school year, an increase of over $31,000 from this year.

The money is definitely needed, Turner said, noting that a behavioral strategist this year was expected to cost the district $10,000, but proved a $40,000 expense.

Due to concerns over students with mental health problems, the position was contracted this school year for the first time, and will be continued next year.

The funds are intended to help keep at-risk students in school. The district has no carry-over, as it has been spending all of the available funds in this area. The money comes from property taxes, plus a required 25 percent match from the districtís general budget.

School districts are allowed to levy taxes for the purpose. At-risk students are considered to be those with attendance issues, lack of progress in school, those who feel no connection to school, and those with low achievement in reading or math. The district can apply at-risk funds to students who fall into at least two of those categories, according to Turner. Funds can also be used for professional development for staff related to dropout prevention.

The district has traditionally requested the maximum allowable growth amount for the purpose, with most of the money spent on salaries for teachers, assistants and counselors who work with at-risk students. Some is also used for mentoring and after-school programs. Funds are spent at elementary, middle school and high school levels. With budgeting getting underway, Turner said he does not expect the increase in at-risk asking to have a dramatic effect in overall taxation.

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