JUNIOR JOB SHADOW DAY IS FAST APPROACHING All of the juniors at Hudson Community School will be participating in a job shadow experience Wednesday, April 25th, 2018. This day is designed for the students to create and take responsibility for […]
This year’s prom, themed Starry Night, will take place Saturday, April 21st. The traditional Prom Walk Through begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Hudson High School Auditorium. Couple and class pictures will begin at 7 p.m. at Fox Ridge Golf Course in Dike. A pasta […]
by sophomore Abby Gaudian The Hudson High School Jazz Band competed against 14 other teams from around the state and brought home fourth place from the Iowa Jazz Championships. In addition, junior Emily Boote and senior Andrew Olsen were awarded […]
The Iowa High School Press Association has named junior Payton Sherwood a “Top 10 Emerging Journalist”. She was selected from what IHSPA called “a very competitive” field of 39 students. Sherwood will receive a certificate, a pin, and a $100 scholarship […]
“Tonight’s (3/23) performance of ‘Footloose’ is SOLD OUT! There will be no walk-in seats available to purchase. There are still tickets left for Saturday’s show. Follow the link below or stop by the high school office to get your seats will they last! […]
Hudson Community School’s 2016 yearbook, “MARVELoUS,” has received national recognition. The cover and back endsheet, both designed by Class of 2016 graduate Carmen Finn, are featured in Josten’s annual publication, The Look Book. This year, 13, 500 Look Books will be […]
Voss Blog Log
Education in Iowa Public Schools
Dr. Anthony D. Voss, Superintendent of Schools
|April 18, 2018. Our fourth weather related cancellation|
of the school year and fifth day of school that was missed.
|April 9, 2018. Our elementary students made the best out|
of a bad situation with this wet heavy snow that was perfect
for snowman building during recess.
Not to complicate the issue any further but instead to add more clarity to how this works, it is important to understand that total spending authority does not automatically represent cash in the bank. Authority quite simply means that you have the ability to spend those funds. It is not uncommon in school districts to have more authority than they have cash in the bank. The only way to create the revenue to fund the authority is to increase the property tax rate and fill the cash reserve. But, by Iowa law you can only fund to what you have authority for. In other words, [looking at] our example above, if we wanted to create a scenario where we had $11,000,000 in spending authority, you cannot levy for more cash. That is the beauty and the danger of the Iowa public school finance law. Cash creates cash to fund authority. Cash does not generate authority.
At some point, the question becomes: how much savings should a school district have? Well, frankly that depends on who you talk to, the wishes of the school board, and what your overall priorities for student learning are in the school. Yet at the same time, it is imperative that school districts have the ability to 'look around the corner'. For example, what does the forecast model do? In our case, if the growth in cost per pupil were to continue at a rate of 1% annually and our expenditures increased at a rate of 4% annually; we would consume over $1,500,000 of our savings account over a five year period. However, it is also worth debating whether or not the revenue is going to increase at even a 1% per pupil rate. There are signs that it may not.
Consider this: the legislature is currently debating a tax reform bill that, if enacted will reduce state revenue by over $1 billion a year. To put that in perspective, the entire state budget is roughly $7.3 billion in revenue. As the largest line item of the state budget, school aid accounts for 55% of state budget expenditures. It seems nonsensical to assume schools won't be impacted by this type of legislation. And that's not all. Last week we learned the state is considering eliminating the 'back fill' that was promised when the commercial and property tax reform legislation was signed in 2013. For Hudson, that would be a cash loss of roughly $30,000; ironically the same amount of revenue that is being generated by the cost per pupil growth rate for this year. If that weren't enough of a reason to be concerned, it is also important to consider changes in federal policy that undoubtedly will have tertiary effects for local school districts. The implementation of tariffs between China and the United States will impact our soybean and pork producer markets. A recent decision by the Administration to grant hardship waivers to oil refineries in an effort to avoid ethanol blending will have a negative impact on our corn market. We can't forget, Iowa's economy is driven by agriculture.
But there is some good news in those dark clouds. A silver lining if you will. Right now we have ample reserves to weather the storm. If we are smart about the allocation of our resources, strategic about the deployment of our capital, and mindful of the extraneous forces that are impacting our ability to do the work of educating our youth--we will be just fine.
Ensuring our students safety while at school is of paramount concern to us. I was happy to field the phone calls and email from many of you inquiring about our school safety plan and procedures in the wake of the school shooting in Florida a few weeks back. As a start, you are probably aware that all doors to the attendance centers are locked during the day. In order to gain entry, patrons need to buzz in at the camera by the door where the administrative assistant can grant access. While this is a very visible safety measure, there are many other components in place that are not easily seen and are unknown to the general public.
Here is what I can share with you. Our school district has in place a comprehensive school safety plan that incorporates detailed procedures for a variety of emergency scenarios. The most recent iteration of this plan was updated and communicated with our faculty and staff at the beginning of the school year. Working in concert with our local law enforcement agencies and the Black Hawk County Sheriff's office, our school district utilizes a response to an active shooter known as ALICE. This acronym stands for Alert-Lockdown-Inform-Counter-Evacuate. This type of response is different from what schools employed in the past, which was to barricade and hide, and has not been proven to be the best option. Instead, our plan relies on an approach that provides the teacher with options in ALICE to be made based on the situation. Teachers and staff are receiving training about what these options look like in the classroom.
Again, this plan was rolled out to staff at the beginning of this school year. In the interim we have had local law enforcement agencies working with our school safety officer, Mr. Bell to fine tune the plan and identify weaknesses. By the end of April, the staff will participate in additional training that will include practical demonstrations for each option and a possible tabletop exercise. It is our intention by the end of the school year to introduce age appropriate components and procedures of this plan to students. This is a challenging topic to address with students and we intend to be both timely and sensitive with our planning and implementation.
As our plan is rolled out to the students additional information will be coming. If you have questions, by all means reach out to us. But, keep in mind some portions of our plan will need to remain confidential.