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Saturday, February 22, 2020

Davenport requests $9 million debt forgiveness from Iowa Dept. of Education


By Kimberly James | Jan 27, 2020

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The Davenport School District has $12 million in negative unspent balance, and the school board approved a proposal to request that the Iowa Department of Education's School Budget Review Committee (SBRC) forgive three-quarters of that debt.

Negative unspent balance is the term the state uses when a district spends more of its general fund than authorized. The district's balance has come from overspending in recent years. 

According to the Quad-City Times, Superintendent Robert Kobylski said that if the majority of that balance is forgiven, fewer cuts will have to be made to school faculty and staff in the coming year. If none of the debt is forgiven, he said it would have a deleterious effect on our instructional programs as an overall school district, and as an overall school system for our citizens.

If the SBRC does not forgive the debt, the school district will have to cut 100 more teachers and 56 other staff members in fiscal year 2021. If the amount requested is forgiven, the district will only need to cut 25 teachers, which should occur through attrition and retirement, so likely no one will be laid off. Only 24 staff members will have to be let go, the Quad-City Times reported.

District officials are scheduled to meet with SBRC officials on Jan. 28. The board hopes that the SBRC will see that cuts have already been made to staffing and other areas to reduce spending. The district is on track to cut an estimated $6.7 million from its budget. More than 120 teachers and staff were laid off or retired in the last year. 

Tom Lane, assigned by the Iowa Board of Education to advise the Davenport School District, said the SBRC has no desire to dissolve the district. He said the SBRC recognizes it has ownership of the learning of the kids in this district and that they have a responsibility to the taxpayers of this district, according to the Quad-City Times.

Kobylski said that in the past, the district has brought plans to the  SBRC but they always seemed to fall through. This time, though, the district comes ready with financial figures showing that it will be able to make necessary cuts. 

The district's biggest problem is declining enrollment.

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