Atlantic School Board faces tough budget decisions


December 14th, 2011 by Ric Hanson

The Atlantic School District’s Board of Education will have some tough decisions to make early next year when it comes to the 2012-2013 budget. Superintendent Mike Amstein said during Tuesday night’s Board meeting, the two-percent allowable growth tentatively approved by the Iowa Legislature may be eaten up by cuts in Federal Funding. A two-percent allowable growth for the Atlantic District amounts to about $140,000. But because the Congressional Super Committee failed to do its work at the federal level, the district could stand to lose up to $120,000 in funding due to automatic spending cuts. Some of the cuts he says, will affect Special Education, and Title Program, which is essentially a literacy program for at-risk children, such as free-and reduced lunch.

He says they could be looking at an 8-percent cut in entitlement programs, based on funding. Title One would lose about $20,000 in federal funding. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act – IDEA – Part B, would stand to lose $6,000, and, Special Education funding would lose about $95,000, for a total of about $121,000. In addition to the federal cuts, Amstein says there will be an increase in the cost of IPERS of .07-percent, which will become effective July 1st, 2012, and an increase in the amount the district pays for insurance, but how much that will be isn’t yet known.

Amstein says when the Board takes a look at their upcoming budget, they need to look at ways to watch their spending. The good news he says, is that the District has done some things this year to try and recover funds they have missed out on in previous years, which will help to buffer the costs. The Iowa Legislature may also end up passing additional funding for schools, but it’s too early to know for sure. Amstein says also, talks are progressing with the teacher’s association for a reasonable salary and benefits settlement.

He says the district is still in pretty good shape, but the Board needs to give some direction on what areas of the budget they want to protect, and areas where they can save, by the time their January meeting rolls around. He says they should also have a better idea of what the teacher’s union proposal will look like at that time.