Reprinted with permission from the hudson herald On January 4, the Hudson Pirate Robotics team wrapped up its fifth league competition in Dysart, qualifying them for the League Championship to be held on February 7th at Central Middle School in […]
By Hudson Herald Intern Cole Goos The Hudson school has been in the makings of renovating their library. When interviewing Casey Smelser, the school librarian, she described the whole process in phases. They first settled with a company called Demco. […]
The Daughters of the American Revolution Good Citizens program and scholarship contest is intended to encourage and reward the qualities of good citizenship. Each year, the staff selects one Senior to nominate for the DAR Good Citizen with the qualities […]
Hudson Students Testing in February/March In the next few weeks, your child will be taking the Iowa Assessments. The Iowa Assessments provide detailed information about your child in a variety of important content areas including Reading, English Language Arts, Mathematics, […]
Hudson Families – We are excited to give you the chance to use Canvas, our online portal to your students’ classes, so that you can see grades, assignment dues dates, announcements, and other course content. This will allow you to […]
by freshman Katelynn Pint Hudson High School students, senior Hannah Lentfer and 2014 graduate Courtney Petersen, were featured in the 2014 issue of the Best of The High School Press. The Best of the High School Press is a publication […]
Voss Blog Log
Educational Issues in Iowa Public Schools
Anthony D. Voss, Superintendent of Schools
In his recent Condition of the State address, Governor Branstad recommended what equates to a 1.25% increase in supplemental state aid for the fiscal year that begins on July 1, 2015 (FY16), and a 2.45% increase for the fiscal year that begins on July 1, 2016 (FY17). Upon his return to office in 2011, the Governor set a bold agenda for Iowa schools and released a blueprint titled, "One Unshakeable Vision; World Class Schools for Iowa". In that blueprint, the following statement is made:
Iowans have long shared a deep commitment to giving our children the best education possible. We recognize young people today must meet higher expectations than ever to thrive in this global, knowledge-based economy. For the sake of our children and our state, it is vitally important that we build on our tradition of excellence to improve our schools. Iowa’s house of education still has a strong foundation, but it is also in need of a major remodel to be ready for the days ahead.
We can look at our own recent example and see the consequences. It was the 2010-2011 school year, many of you remember it well. That was the year Hudson made major and significant budget cuts. While no doubt there were areas in which the district was 'long' in staffing, there were other areas that were cut further than we may have liked. To this day some of those areas remain below staffing levels I would prefer. Because of these cuts and sound fiscal practices in the intervening years we have been able to right that ship. Our financial footing is much firmer than it was five years ago and we have made tremendous progress. However, this year I am predicting a decrease in our unspent balance which means that we will deficit spend. This certainly isn't the crisis it was five years ago because we can absorb short term deficit spending--that is what the unspent balance is designed to do. But with a pattern of under funding coupled with a drop in enrollment, if we aren't careful we can very quickly see our reserves depleted by compounding years of inadequate funding levels. Every one of you out there know that it is not a wise practice to spend our savings on recurring costs.
To put this into real numbers for you, the 1.25% the Governor is proposing equates to $25,895 in real dollars for the Hudson Community School District. In reality this equates to budget growth of .59%. The cost to advance teachers on the salary schedule is $40,976, which is before we even begin to negotiate the contract for the 2015-2016 school year. Then there are other increases in the budget that we also can't control, such as energy and curriculum supplies.
Unfortunately our story isn't all that unique, or to many of my colleagues even interesting. It is, however symptomatic of a much larger and graver problem. We made some tough decisions and have been able to recover. I am confident that with discipline and thoughtful deliberations we will continue to thrive and survive for years to come--provided we are given adequate resources in which to operate.
When I became superintendent of schools in 2010 there were somewhere in the neighborhood of 359 school districts in Iowa. Five years later, we are down to 338. Last year it seemed that a week didn't go by where the top story on the news was a school district that was making significant budget cuts. The myth that cuts are isolated to smaller school districts is also simply untrue. The reality was that cuts were happening all around us and were in some of the largest school districts in the state. I can think of one school district that had to cut $3.5 Million last year, and is slated to cut that much again this year!
In our own neighborhood, school districts are making cuts to their budgets that may forever alter the makeup of communities. You know this because we all have friends that are directly impacted! One school not too far from us is cutting close to $1 Million, while another is considering the closure of a school building. At our recent superintendent meeting we took the time to go around the table and share what the new funding proposals would mean for our school districts. I can tell you that everyone of the sixteen superintendents around the table that day do not see anything good coming from these numbers.
Many of us hope that we can cover through attrition, which means not hiring replacement teaches when someone departs. That has the unfortunate side effect of driving up class sizes. Those that don't will make cuts where they can and budget adjustments where appropriate; anything that we can in order to ensure that we are providing a quality educational experience that rises to the level of World Class Schools!
Further, I am not sure making the day any longer is a wise decision. Our young learners need much more rest than we do. They are exhausted by the end of the day, and those of you that have young children at home know what I mean. Again that is just my perspective!