Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

Local News

March 13, 2014

Twin Cedars to cut positions

The Twin Cedars School Board met Monday night. One of the main topics was the budget and finding a way to generate cash reserves.

Superintendent Brian VanderSluis said that several years of declining enrollment at Twin Cedars has forced this discussion. The plan the board assembled to address its financial issues includes cutting three certified positions and raising the property tax levy for 2014-15 from $13.68 to $14.98. Though the levy is increased, it is not the highest one asked of property taxpayers in the district’s history.

VanderSluis added that the board has not determined which three certified positions will be cut. If the board sought to reduce staff for the coming year, it was required by law to make the decision at Monday’s meeting. The State has a deadline for such actions.

Declining enrollment means less aid from the State to the district. Twin Cedars has also seen a decline in the number of students open-enrolling into the district.

The tax asking is also expected to help the district build its Management Fund, the one that pays unemployment expenses. VanderSluis is hopeful that money can be managed well enough that the actual asking of property taxpayers could be lowered before the levy goes into effect. The State mandates that levies cannot be increased once certified, but they can be decreased.

VanderSluis also pointed out that Twin Cedars has no debt. Therefore, no money received will be used to repay any previous costs.

Professional Educators of Iowa, representing the teachers of the district, has proposed a 5.46 percent salary increase for the staff. The board has responded with a 0 percent increase. VanderSluis said that insurance costs are still unknown, and need to be learned before the bargaining process can begin.

The district’s master contract with the teachers went to mediation last year. The settlement was a 5.84 percent total package increase.

The next regular board meeting will be Monday, April 14, at 5 p.m.

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