The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

January 28, 2014

Clinton School District faces shortfall

By Brenden West
Assistant Editor

CLINTON — Lower enrollment numbers have created a $636,000 shortfall for the Clinton School District, forcing the board of education’s hand into making some tough decisions.

The district has 106 fewer students enrolled than it had in 2012-2013, meaning Clinton schools have lost roughly $6,000 in state funding per student. On Monday, superintendent Deb Olson said the board now has to consider eliminating 11 jobs throughout the district as a result. An information sheet outlining the plan showed the district could be a principal, a human resources director, a counselor and eight teachers lighter when the next school year starts in August.

“In order to keep pace, we need to cut additional money out of (the budget),” Olson said, during the board’s committee of the whole meeting. “I’m trying to give you the best thing that I can in looking at our school moving forward.”

The cuts would recoup an estimated $907,751 for the district, and Olson said the jobs eliminated would have low life impact. They would be spread out across several facilities. She said she was “95 percent” sure the positions cut would be retirees and resignees, meaning no one would lose his or her position.

The information Olson presented was released to district staff today.

Board members said there’s nothing easy about decisions like this. That’s why one of them - Eric Gettes - is attempting to survey families who have open enrolled out of the district. The project, Gettes said, is to identify areas where the district can improve.

“The decline was a big issue during school board elections,” he said, adding this is not an appeal for vacated families to return, but a genuine inquiry to gather information. “We’re trying to ascertain reasons and find issues that need to be addressed.”

By late February, he hopes to begin surveying the families.

Meanwhile, other board members commended Olson for addressing the tough scenario.

“Obviously balancing our budget is important. Unfortunately this is what has to be done to do that,” said board member Devin Guillory.

“I think the glass is more than half full by doing the cuts in this balanced ratio across the board,” board president Jim McGraw said. “Your administrators will get a little bit more responsibility in other areas. I think that makes them grow, makes them better administrators and makes us a stronger team.”

With minimal impact cuts, Olson said she feels the district will continue to properly serve students’ educational needs. She’s encouraging anyone with questions to contact her office, staff or parents.

“We’re all about the kids and that’s the first thing we’ve got to look at,” Olson said. “That’s what drives you and that’s what drives me.”