Des Moines schools official praises budget process

Originally published on The Des Moines Register’s website.

Long-term planning helped make the 2014-15 budget-making process easier for the Des Moines school district, Chief Financial Officer Thomas Harper said at a public budget forum Saturday morning.

“It helps us get in front of things that could become a crisis and make sure they don’t become a crisis,” Harper said.

Harper said he thinks that’s why few people showed up to last week’s public forums on the district budget. About eight people attended Wednesday’s forum at Hoover High School and four people attended Saturday’s forum at Central Campus.

The district released its preliminary budget March 7. It calls for $506.4 million in expenditures, and school officials predict the district’s revenue will be $480 million.

The gap will be filled by money from the district’s surpluses and will be spent mostly on technology throughout the year, Harper said.

The district’s position means school officials are better able to address specific concerns from staff, students and parents, Harper said.

Linda Seobba, who works in food service for Des Moines Public Schools, asked Saturday about increasing salaries for food service workers.

Harper said that pay for food service workers comes from food services revenue.

He talked about the possibility of using Des Moines food service facilities to cater to other school districts to increase revenue.

Harper said that Wednesday’s forum included discussion of the district’s wellness program and taxes.

The budget proposal includes a decrease in the property tax rate for Des Moines school district residents: from $18.35 per $1,000 of taxable value to $17.99.

School officials will hold a final public forum at 5:45 p.m. Tuesday, before the school board’s regular 6 p.m. meeting at Central Campus, 1800 Grand Ave. The board will then vote on whether to adopt the 2014-15 school budget.

If the board expresses major concerns about the budget, the board could hold a special meeting later in April to vote on the budget.

 

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