Waterloo school officials bracing for more cuts

Jim Helton

Waterloo School Superintendent Jim Helton presented a bleak review of school district finances during Monday’s meeting of the Waterloo School Board.

He said the issues were not so much with expenditures, but with revenues.

“Our local equalized assessed values this year have decreased by 3.9 percent,” he said. “That revenue locally is at the 2007 level.”

Other revenue issues he told the board about included an 11 percent decrease in general state aid and a deficit reduction plan.

The committee has been working on the deficit reduction plan, which will include one payment from the past year and three payments from the current year.

“I’m a little fearful, because we may only get two payments from the current year,” he said. “But we have to have a system in place.”

In the plan, Helton outlined a $552,000 decrease in educational revenues because of a shift in personnel, retirements and not replacing paraprofessionals.

However, under the transportation category, the projected fund will see its first deficit since 2006 because of a $76,000 increase in expenditures.

“We had to add an additional bus, which was our fear,” Helton said.

The projected budget for the 2014 fiscal year is $5,093,385.

“We are very close to having to do a deficit reduction plan,” he said. “We’re close to our projected budget being less than three times our deficit.”

If the budget reaches that point, the plan will have to be put in place, and this year’s working cash will be tight be- cause of the revenue deficit.

Helton said the projected budget is still very much a working document based on the revenues the district is expecting to receive, but expenditures are nearly set in stone.

“Our hope in FY ’15 is that we’re back to where we are in FY ’13,” he said. “We need strategic planning and strategic action.”

Also during the meeting, the school board reviewed a pro- posed dissolution of the “middle school concept” at Waterloo Junior High School and a return to traditional junior high school scheduling during its Monday meeting.

Helton said all the planning that will go into the process of eliminating the middle school concept should involve junior high school administration and staff.

Having a hybrid of the two concepts that would meet the district’s needs would be ideal, he told the board.

“This is all preliminary work,” he said. “When you talk about eliminating a program that has been very effective within the teaching and learning component of it, it’s tough.”

Helton stressed “holding off until we have to (eliminate the program),” but at the point the district is at, there is not much of a choice.

The board will review the budget again next month.

Board members also approved the employment of a full-time special education teacher (Jamie Smallwood), elementary teachers (Timothy Augustine and Emily Grohmann) and an agriculture teacher (Heidi Clark) for the 2013-14 school year, which kicked off this morning.

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