New school budget plan may require multiple cuts

Ames Community School District Superintendent Linda Beyea proposed a new budget plan for the 2007-2008 school year in the School Board meeting held April 30. Her main focus was the decline of enrollment over the past 10 years, and with a rise in enrollment, Ames Schools would be in a better financial position. The District has a total of $815,147 to spend this coming year, plus any amount they wish to cut from the current budget. Added to this new budget would be textbook fees, turnover income increases, and building rental income increases, totaling in $1,110,147 to spend. The budget proposed would cut $398,727, and with spending $1,508,874, the total adds up to $1,110,147. Some of the increases include funding for Infinite Campus, transportation, and ELP materials. The superintendent’s cuts include one middle school substitute, one high school substitute, one high school language arts teacher and a part-time Industrial Technology teacher. With fewer teachers, some electives may be taken out of the curriculum. These cutbacks, if taken into effect, will influence many students who have already signed up for the eliminated courses. In addition, one proposal pushed meeting times of Spirit (the yearbook) and The WEB to after school, which would conflict with other after school activities and jobs. Junior Tony Chung, a member of Ames High’s Spirit staff, opposes the budget cuts. “Moving Yearbook meetings would require me to have to choose between sports and English,” he said. “It discourages athletes from joining [Yearbook], and nothing would ever get done because we use programs that no one has at home. No one would join and members wouldn’t show up – it’d be completely worthless.” Beyea also mentioned that there were 4,970 students enrolled in 1997, while this current school year the district enrollment number has shrunk to 4,320. The elementary schools had the most students this year with around 1,800, which is six grades spread out through five schools. The high school had slightly less than 1,500 students and the middle school just over 1,000. Funding for Iowa schools is based on the average number of students in each classroom, so the bigger the average, the more money the district receives. Because of the decrease in funds over the years, the district has had to make drastic cuts such as closing the schools. The school board will vote on next year’s budget at its May 21 meeting. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the AHS multi-purpose room.