Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

Local News

May 17, 2013

Higher costs are in Knoxville Schools' future

The Knoxville School Board, in trying to prepare for the future, looked at figures prepared by Business Manager Craig Mobley regarding enrollment and possible available funding. Looking at the figures provided, Superintendent Randy Flack said the district will likely have to look at more cuts, sharing and retirement incentives in the future. He suggested retirement incentives could be offered next year, as several staff members will be eligible.

The board has not spent much time discussing revenue increases, though there may be some more revenue available. The Legislature has extended a program that allows districts to “weight” their official enrollment if they share a position with another district. For instance, Knoxville shares a teacher librarian with Pleasantville. Because of this, funding the equivalent of 40 students becomes available to Knoxville.

Flack said he intends to look into other ways to share. He has been in communication with other superintendents, and all of them are exploring these options as well.

“I’m not sure what we’ll find,” Flack said. “All the schools are interested in whatever we could find.”

Knoxville already shares staff with other districts. At Monday’s meeting, sharing was expanded when the board approved an agreement with Pella to share a Nutrition Services Director. Connie Boldt holds this position and is already serving Knoxville and Melcher-Dallas. The agreement with Pella should not impact the one with Melcher-Dallas.

Flack told the board that menu requirements, handed down from the federal government, are becoming more “complicated all the time.” This includes meals for adults.

Federal health care mandates will present new challenges and costs to the district. After Jan. 1, 2014, the district will see an 11 percent increase in health care costs. The increase would have been 14 percent, if the board did not choose to change its insurance company. These services will be taken over by the Mercer Educational Trust, a Wellmark initiative.

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