Secondary schools face $100,000 budget shortfall

By Briana McGeough 2008

As the end of the ’06-’07 school year quickly approaches, Cedar Falls administrators are already hard at work on the budget for the 2007-2008 school year, and the plans include cuts in spending.

At the beginning of this year, the Cedar Falls School District had some budget concerns as costs rose more rapidly than available funds.

“We had to cut $400,000 from our budget,” Director of Secondary Education Dan Conrad said.

As a result, the school had to work to reduce spending wherever possible. One way that they did this was by purchasing fewer supplies.

“We’ve tried to be very efficient and order the minimum this year,” CFHS principal Rich Powers said.

Administrators also made an effort to reduce the number of sections offered of each class.

“One thing that should be transparent to students is that we have tried to balance out class sizes, and that helps us minimize extra sections that can be costly,” Powers said.

The budget situation has improved during the last year.

“We will have a slight increase in enrollment, so we are in better shape. Our biggest plan is to replace reductions made last year,” Conrad said.

Even though the administration hopes to replace some of the supplies that could not be purchased for this year, further budget reductions are in sight. Secondary buildings hope to reduce the budget of the three schools by $100,000 next year.

“We’re close to being on track with that, and that has been done mostly through carefully replacing staff where there have been retirements,” Powers said.

Staffing costs are expected to decrease next year.

“We will reduce staff as needed based on enrollment, so some departments will have staff increases and some will have decreases.” Conrad said.

This reduction of staff will not require layoffs.

“Our staffing needs will drop. One thing that is important is that we tried to make staff reductions where we had the opportunity. No current staff members lost their jobs,” Powers said.

Some additions will be made to the staff. The math department will increase by a half position, and a new, half-time administrator, who will focus on the sophomore class, will also be added.

“We are in the process of adding a half-time position that will primarily assist with activity and athletic supervision as well as some discipline and attendance. This position has not been finalized yet,” Powers said.

Adding this administrator will bring Cedar Falls High School closer to the amount of administrative support that other districts have.

“If you look at schools similar to Cedar Falls in size, we are pretty understaffed in that particular area. This will allow us to offer more support for activities and athletics,” Powers said.

Even with the addition of this staff person, Cedar Falls High School will still have fewer administrators per capita than many schools.

“We will still be down almost half of a person, but this new person will bring us closer to the average,” Conrad said.

Though the budget must be finished before next year, planning ahead with staffing and supply needs is always a struggle.

“As our student population ebbs and flows, it is difficult to have a consistent target. For example, we could pick up close to 20 students after school starts next year, but that is difficult to plan for,” Powers said.

With all of the budget-related challenges that they have recently, even administrators have learned lessons this past year.

“We have learned how to budget creatively. We’ve really looked at how to reduce the budget while also increasing resources,” Conrad said.

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