Cedar Rapids Schools May Avoid Much Budget Cutting this Year

By Dave Franzman, Reporter

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa- School districts statewide need to figure out the amount of revenue they'll expect to get, and set local property tax rates for the next school year, by April 15th. For some districts this year, that's meant budget shortfalls and planning budget cuts.

Not too many months ago, Cedar Rapids district leaders probably expected to do some budget cutting this spring to make revenue and expenses match up.

The estimated budget for the district, in round dollars, will probably be about $260-million. But $5-million dollars received in the form of a state grant a few weeks ago will go a long way to eliminating any budget drama for the district.

Dave Benson, Cedar Rapids Superintendent, said the $5-million dollars was really the difference between a budget deficit and a budget close to break even.

"The deficit we had to work with helped us in round dollars about three million dollars toward meeting our goals," Benson said.

Practically every district statewide applied for the new Teacher Leadership and Compensation System grants from the Iowa Department of Education. Cedar Rapids had the highest rank application statewide. That $5-million dollars a year to help pay for improved teacher training will continue for three years.

Superintendent Benson said largely because of that "bonus" revenue to the district, he'll be able to recommend no change in the current tax rate for district residents. And while it's possible the district might have to tweak expenses slightly to keep in line with revenue, those changes won't involve teacher layoffs.

"I'm not anticipating we'll do any pink slipping. We'll make all the necessary personnel moves we need to make to balance the budget with retirements and people voluntarily leaving the district," Benson said.

The Cedar Rapids School Board should set the revenue figures, and tax rate, at the upcoming meeting on April 14th.
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