Newton enrollment decline exceeds state’s 2.5% SSA allocation – Newton Daily News

Although the Iowa Legislature passed a 2.5 percent increase for all public schools in the state, Newton Community School District’s enrollment decline exceeds the new SSA allocation, and so the district will receive only a 1 percent increase in new money. .

Tim Bloom, director of business services for Newton schools, told school board members during an April 8 work session that if enrollment had not declined, Newton would likely receive a 2.5 percent SSA. However, certified enrollment decreased by 45.9 students to a total of 2,911.7 students.

According to data provided by the Newton school district, 1 percent is $225,813 in new money. Since the 2019-2020 school year, Newton has met or exceeded the state SSA only once; In the 2023-2024 school year, the district received 3.61 percent of the new money when the SSA was 3 percent.

Here’s how much new money the Newton school district received when compared to increases by Iowa lawmakers:

• FY20 (2019-2020): 1% new money, or $207,179, at 2.06% SSA.

• FY21 (2020-2021): 0.93% new money, or $194,238, at 2.3% SSA.

• FY22 (2021-2022): 1% new money, or $211,193, at 2.4% SSA.

• FY23 (2022-2023): 2.17% new money, or $462,954, at 2.5% SSA.

• FY24 (2023-2024): 3.61% new money, or $787,797, at 3% SSA.

• Estimated FY25 (2024-2025): 1% new money, or $225,813, 2.5% SSA.

Other Iowa school districts are also struggling financially. The newspaper’s Grace King reported in March that the Linn-Mar Community School District was cutting 50 employees as part of a $2.5 million budget cut that contributed to “sustainable funding” of per-pupil state aid and declining enrollment.

The Newton school district was already planning staff cuts following the upcoming downsizing and reconfiguration of elementary buildings. Administrators and school board members are well aware that enrollment has been on a downward trend for some time.

Bloom said the district hopes it can move forward with the cuts, but he worries more cuts could follow.

“The funding received is not keeping pace with inflationary cost increases,” he said. “It may be necessary to reduce further in the future. We’re hopeful that the outlook for enrollment declines will improve, but we’re realistic that we have to evaluate every job that opens up to see if we’re going to change it.”

In addition to falling short of SSA funds, Newton also faces a challenge with teacher salary supplement funds. House File 2612 included a base salary increase for all Iowa teachers. First-time teachers are paid $47,500, and teachers with 12 years of experience at least $60,000.

The bill, signed into law last month by Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, earmarked $22 million to help pay for experienced teachers. But Newton Superintendent Tom Messinger and Bloom both insist it was never included in the bill.

In a follow-up with the Newton News, administrators said they were told by their representative in the Iowa Legislature that $22 million would be in the bill to supplement salaries for teachers with 12 years of experience. But after the bill passed, $22 million was missing.

“So now we’re getting funds to raise the base salary for teachers,” Bloom said. “That’s it. No other increase and that’s what the 2.5 (percent) SSA is for.

“Or, in our case, 1 percent.”

Funds were also available for school districts to use on support staff salaries, allowing them to meet the $15 an hour wage requirement.

But Newton was already paying his support staff above the minimum.

“Our paraeducators, our paraeducators, actually make over $15 an hour, so there’s no extra money for us,” Bloom said.

Messenger said school districts that already pay a minimum of $47,500 still receive funds from the state to supplement salaries. But when it comes to support staff pay, he said the funding only goes to schools that need a raise for support staff.

“Yeah. That’s all good,” Bloom said sarcastically. “Some work.”

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