K-12 public schools, cities and counties represent more than 85 percent of the total property taxes in the state of Iowa. The basic equation for property taxes in Iowa is really pretty simple; it is a tax rate multiplied by taxable value equals taxes levied. However, the way these governmental entities can spend those tax dollars differs: cities and counties are “rate” limited whereas schools are “budget” limited.

Rate limits carry different results from budget limitations, giving cities and counties more flexibility with which to operate their budgets. For example, if a city has a tax rate of $8.10 per thousand and the property valuation in the city doubles, if they leave the tax rate unchanged, they’ll have twice as many property tax dollars. Likewise, if the same city loses half of its property valuation, it will lose half of its revenue.

Schools are different. The legislature effectively sets a school district’s budget by setting a maximum spending per child. In a school district, if the property tax valuation doubles, the tax rate falls, but the amount of money the district has to spend is exactly the same. Likewise, if the property valuation falls by half, the total budget of the district remains the same, but the property tax rate will increase. In schools, the vast majority of the tax rate is driven by this formula; local school boards have limited ability to influence the General Fund tax rate.

So, how much impact can a local school board have on the district’s tax rate? The answer to this question isn’t definite; it depends. Of our total tax rate of $12.9411 per thousand, $4.400 per thousand is due solely to the operation of the School Foundation Formula, while board and voter approved levies amounting to $8.5411 supplement our instruction and provide our facility budget. While some may wish to call these “optional” levies, in reality most school districts around the state utilize some or all of these levies.

Due to the low levels of spending increases in the last six years allowed by the state, there has been an increasing trend to utilize more of these “optional” levies to replace funding not provided by the state. We are committed to providing the best value for taxpayers in our district, but we are also committed to providing the best possible education in the IKM-Manning Community School District. This is what your school board members and administrators struggle with every day. In the next few weeks we will be preparing the 2012-2013 school budget.

On a different note, beginning with the 2013-14 school year the IKM-Manning District will be a part of the Western Iowa Conference, leaving the Western Valley Conference. All parties involved in this decision feels it is a great move for all.

Over the next few weeks our boy’s and girl’s basketball teams will be involved in the Western Valley Conference Tournament. Refer to the website to keep up on the changing schedule.

Again, if you have questions please contact me at tward@ikm-manning.k12.ia.us or call the school at 712-654-2852. Have a great week.

Yours in education-Dr. Ward

The Iowa Department of Education has just released final enrollment
numbers which form the basis of school district budgets for the
2012-13 school year.  During the 2011 Legislative Session, the Iowa
Legislature established a two percent allowable growth for FY 2013,
which is an increase of $118 per student served.  That sets the state
cost per pupil for the 2012-13 school year at $6,001.  Since school
funding in Iowa is based on these two critical variables (the number
of pupils in a school district and the cost per pupil), it is now
possible to begin looking at our school district budget for next year.
A two percent allowable growth does not mean that school district
budgets will automatically grow by two percent next year.  The two
percent increase allows the school district to spend an additional
$118 per student in the FY 2013, for all students who are still in the
school district.  For some districts, this is an increase in total
budget potential and for others, it’s a decrease.  For the IKM-Manning
Community School District, our total change in budget potential is a
decrease of $220,892 for FY 2013.

On a statewide basis, the range of percent change in regular program
district cost varies from a high of 13.0 percent increase to a low of
10.1 percent decrease.  The average Iowa district budget change is a
loss of 0.4 percent.  Of Iowa’s 351 school districts, 188 will
experience a decrease in total regular program budget resources for
the 2012-13 school year based on the two percent allowable growth per

Since our district has declining enrollment, this decrease of 28.7
students is a loss of -4.5 percent.  Although we have fewer students
in our school, there are still some fixed costs, such as
heating/cooling the rooms and running the buses, neither of which is
any less.  We may be able to reduce staff with fewer students, but it
is never as simple as it may seem.  For example, the loss of 28
students didn’t all come from one classroom.  We will still need to
provide a classroom and teacher for every student.
The $118 per pupil increase has to stretch a long way, especially as
Iowa school districts are recovering from a zero change in the
district costs per pupil in FY 2012.  Costs still go up, despite the
legislative limitation on revenues.  For example, beginning July 1,
there will be an increase in both the employer and employee
contribution to the IPERS (Iowa Public Employee Retirement System) in
order to restore the fund to a sound position.  That is estimated to
cost school districts statewide about half of the total allowable
growth increase.  The remainder must pay for increased fuel and
transportation costs, automatic salary changes to age the salary
schedule, any new staff that must be hired, increased employee
benefits and salaries agreed to via collective bargaining, and
textbooks, technology and other costs, including compliance costs for
state and federal mandates that are not always funded.
Although the collection of state revenues has rebounded to a healthy
estimation of over four percent for FY 2013, there has not yet been a
corresponding restoration of funding for either ongoing school
expenses or recovery from accumulated years of low funding.
As Iowa’s economy improves, we hope citizens and our state level
policy makers will continue to prioritize the education of our
students as they set allowable growth for FY 2014 and beyond.

Yours in education,
Dr. Tom Ward, Superintendent