The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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March 19, 2013

Camanche School Board works to set budget

CAMANCHE — Rox Aude didn’t want to assume anything that the Iowa State Legislature would or wouldn’t do when formulating allowable growth for local school districts.

That’s why Aude, the business manager at Camanche School District, created a worst-case scenario budget for next school year that would ultimately raise the property tax levy by about 30 cents for Camanche residents.

Whether that will come to fruition is how state legislators will deal with allowable growth, a topic that has garnered plenty of publicity during the 2013 session.

The Iowa House and Senate disagree on how much allowable growth should be allocated to school districts. The Democrat-led Senate wants 4 percent allowable growth, equal to $400 more per student, and the Republican-led House wants 2 percent allowable growth, equal to approximately $300 more per student.

Either version would reduce the impact on local property taxes. If the House’s version moves on to Gov. Terry Branstad, the Camanche School District would set virtually the same property tax levy as last year. If the Senate’s plan moves forward, it could mean a reduction in property taxes for Camanche property owners. But Aude didn’t want to take the chance at guessing what legislators would do.

“This is the year of no solid information,” Aude said.

District officials can lower the levy after being published, but cannot raise the number. The information must be published soon to meet state standards. The proposed budget will include a slight increase in total expenditures of more than $500,000 within the more than $14 million in expenditures. The district will collect $7.402 million through state aid and property taxes, along with $1.1 million through open enrollment. During Monday’s Camanche School Board meeting, Board members approved 29 open-enrollment requests, including 24 from Clinton. Other revenue sources include student fees, interest on investments, instructional support and more.

The Board approved moving the budget to a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. April 10 at the Camanche Administration Center.

A staffing change also moved forward at the meeting, with the Board approving Superintendent Tom Parker’s recommendation of combining the Activities Director position with a Response to Intervention coordinator, and adding a special education staff member at Camanche High School. By combining the AD with a RTI position, the district would reduce a part-time science teacher opening.

Board member Al McManus raised concerns over the AD not having enough time to do the job well, citing other Activities Directors’ choices to return to full-time teaching.

In the past, the district has employed the AD as part time, to go along with part-time teaching.

“I’m concerned that in a day if he can get stuff done,” McManus said. “Can he do both? And do them well?”

Parker said this position would be considered as a pathway to becoming an administrator, so the person chosen for the job would be required to work much like other administrators in the district that span lengthy days.

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