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A-R faces budget shortfall

By Staff | Jul 29, 2009

Calling the board’s attention to declining year-end balances, Armstrong-Ringsted Consolidated School District Randy Collins Monday night said the district is projected to lose 38 students – or 10 percent of the student body – when the official count comes in October.

As a result, the district will lose $230,000 in state aid for the 2010-2011 academic year.

“We’ve got a steep, slippery slope. It’s serious. If we don’t cut now we’ll be in the red,” Collins told the board at its regular meeting Monday night.

Collins pointed to last year’s carryover of $382,843 and a carryover of $190,433 for the end of the recent year. That meant the district “ate through” half the the unspent balance from last year, Collins said.

Should the district end up with finances in the red for two, consecutive years, the district’s fate would be out of its hands.

“It’s possible they (Iowa Department of Education) they would come in and close us down and consolidate us,” Collins said.

Keeping that possibility in mind, Collins said the district needs to stick with his proposed $300,000 in cuts for 2009-2010. Doing so would give a projected year-end balance of $287,143, Collins said. The district trimmed $180,000 in spending over the recently ended 2008-09 year.

“Once you’re negative it’s hard to come out because you don’t have any carryover,” Collins said.

Collins said the district should have a carryover of $1,000-$2,000 per student.

Collins said Iowa is projecting a $1 billion state budget deficit for the coming year. “We’re going to have a state that may not be be to meet its present funding,” Collins said. He underscored the fact that education comprises the biggest slice of the state budget.

Collins stressed that district cuts are not targeting either building in the district. “We’re trying to keep our cuts away from the kids,” he said, noting A-R has one teacher for every 16.5 students.

“We’ve taken advantage of every opportunity when somebody retires and somebody resigns,” Collins said. “We’ve got a plan now that should keep us out of the red but we don’t have much wiggle room. We don’t have the luxury of being able to be sloppy or generous.”