This article will explain the barriers districts have in spending funds. Depending on each district’s economic and demographic situation, some face pressures from the staff side of the budget while others have more pressure on facilities. However, due to restrictions on revenue uses, excess money from the general fund cannot be used to solve shortages on the facilities side and vice versa. As a result, you sometimes end up with districts that have adequate funds but need to lay off staff.

Instructional expenditures (general fund) are equalized, but the funds we levy locally are not. The physical plant and equipment levy and debt service are very valuation dependent and the revenue received varies considerably among districts. However the statewide school infrastructures sales and service tax (better known as the state penny sales tax), provides “equal” funding for school infrastructure needs and/or district property tax relief. The tax capacity of the district and the one penny revenue largely limits the amount of funds for building expenditures.

When it comes to school spending, districts must look at all potential expenditures and determine not only if they have the money, but whether state law allows a particular fund to cover the expense. This standard, often referred to as “Dillon’s Rule,” says school districts are only allowed to do what is specifically outlined by state law. This differs from cities and counties, which operate under “Home Rule,” which allows them to do anything not specifically prohibited by state law. Schools have less latitude than cities and counties in complying with the Code of Iowa, and in turn, how they spend their money.

The next article will cover budget limit for schools, while other property tax entities are rate limited.

As the holiday season is upon us, and we wind down the first semester, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the parents of our students for your on-going encouragement and support of your children and schools. All of our staff members are truly the benefactors of and certainly appreciate your efforts. As you know, once this well deserved break is over it is the start to the second semester---wow has time flown by.

We have a lot to be thankful for here at IKM-Manning CSD. We have outstanding students, outstanding staff members, outstanding educational programs; all made possible by an outstanding Board of Education. We as a district will be facing some challenging times but due to the diligence and leadership of our board members, they have provided us with the leadership and resources needed to maintain IKM-Manning CSD as a leader in public education. Shortly after the return from the winter break the process to prepare for the 2012-13 school year will get underway, with work on the school calendar and the 2013 school budget.

Over the past two weeks we have been blessed with some excellent musical performances by students Pre-K thru 12. I would like to thank Don Struve, Mandy Bahr, Elizabeth Book, and Marisa Merkel for providing the patrons and parents with some great performances. Great job!

In closing, I would again like to thank each and every one of you for your support, and wish all of you a very Happy Holiday Season and a GREAT start to 2012.

Yours in education- Dr. Tom Ward, Superintendent
I hope everyone survived the Thanksgiving Break with all the turkey, dressing, pies and Black Friday shopping. I was involved with my first and last Black Friday experience and decided I would much rather be at school with kids and staff but that is another story.

In the next few weeks before our Winter Break our Fine Arts Department will be putting on a number of concerts and programs. This is a great time to get out and witness another aspect of our students. Ms Bahr, Ms Book, Mrs. Merkel and Mr., Struve all do a great job of preparing our students for their performances. Weather permitting, get out and support these kids and maybe you will even have a sighting of Old Saint Nick.

Please visit the website for the first edition of the District Newsletter. A special thanks needs to go out to Mr.Lahndorf and his class for putting this together for the District.

My Second Coffee with Central Office will be on December 13th in the Manning Cafeteria starting at 9:30a.m. Everyone is invited to come and ask questions, meet the administrators, and have a cup of coffee and possibility a sweet roll. Mark the date on your calendar.

I have tried to communicate to the patrons in different articles on the topic of school funding. One of the most difficult and confusing elements of school funding is how Iowa law restricts the ways K-12 public schools can use various funding sources. Simply put, if we have a shortage in one area of the budget we cannot use other funds available to the district to offset such a shortage unless specifically allowed by law.

According to the Iowa School Foundation Formula, the largest funding source for schools comes from state and local property taxes. Revenues received under the formula are part of a school district’s General Fund, which covers most of our expenditures for faculty and staff salaries. We also have dedicated funding streams for facilities, such as the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL), which can only be spent on buildings, grounds and certain equipment such as computers. People often refer to the General Fund side of the budget as the “breathing” part of the budget, while the other side is referred to as the “bricks and mortar” side.

In my next article I will write about instructional expenditures and the state penny sales tax.

Mark your calendar for the December 13th Coffee and check on all IKM-Manning holiday concerts and programs.

Yours in education,

Dr. Ward

As we celebrate this Thanksgiving holiday, I would like to take the opportunity to thank our students, staff, parents and patrons who are committed to creating an outstanding learning environment here at IKM-Manning CSD. I would also like to acknowledge all those that volunteer their time, enriching our schools. We are all thankful for your collective support.

At this point in the school year, all parents have had the opportunity to meet with the teachers at parent-teacher conference. This is an excellent time to monitor the progress and address concerns and to set goals for the remainder of the school year.

The next three and a half weeks-between Thanksgiving and the Winter Break-is usually a hectic time with programs, concerts and parties, so it’s important that students have adequate time for properly completed homework and study time. In the elementary and middle schools years, homework amounts to 30 to 60 minutes each evening and good homework habits can take years to build and last a lifetime.

As we enjoy this Thanksgiving holiday weekend, it’s also helpful to remember that students need to be rewarded for their achievements. Too many times we focus on the unmet goals, rather to celebrate our successes.

The coming holiday season is a wonderful time of year and I hope that families have time to enjoy one another, especially over this break. Family outings, even as simple as going to a movie or a walk together, provide long-lasting memories and make a difference in a child’s life.

I wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving and look forward to continuing to work together in our mission to create a positive learning environment for the students of IKM-Manning CSD.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Yours in education,

Dr. Ward

Freedom does not come cheap. The first colonist to this new land learned that lesson in the hardships of they faced. The lesson was reinforced on the battlefields of Saratoga and Yorktown. It was taught again at places like Gettysburg and Shiloh. It was redefined on the Marinot Line and on Omaha Beach in a place called Normandy, on Pork Chop Hill in Da Nang, the mountains of Afghanistan and the deserts of Iraq.

These are the names that fill our history books and line newspaper headlines and that are a part of heritage as Americans. These places, whether on our land or abroad, have stood and continue to stand as reminders that freedom is purchased at a high cost.

This is not unique, since we have come to realize that freedom is the most prized possession on earth. There is always someone or some force that waits to take it away from us if we are not vigilant; if we stand unwilling to pay the price for it.  What is unique and wondrous and marvelous is the fact that, America has never lacked individuals who are willing to come forth when the need arises to pay that price with their honor, their devotion, and, when necessary their lives.

The former English colonists fought for the unheard of idea of living their lives free from oppression never asked if it was going to be easy. They saw the need and fulfilled it. They gave themselves unselfishly and with the greatest devotion to the ideas of liberty. Through their efforts a new nation was forged.

Yet, their sacrifices, as wondrous as they were, share equal rank with those men and women who have come forth to serve their country in times of trouble. If the colonists were heroes, then so are those that battled in the sands of North Africa, the mountains of Italy, and the steaming jungles of the South Pacific. And, so were those who, in the face of ridicule from their peers, believed enough in the concepts of liberty to trudge through the rice patties and jungles of Viet Nam. And, in today’s world to face the threat of terrorism in the mountains of Afghanistan and the deserts of Iraq. All were and are heroes.

These are the veterans. These are the men and women who left their homes, their safety, and their comfort to place themselves in the front lines and on the battlefields in order that freedom would continue to thrive and flourish.

These are the veterans. These are the men and women, in the words of President John Kennedy, asked not what their country could do for them but what they could do for their country.

These are the veterans. These are the men and women who gave themselves in the belief that they were defending liberty; a belief if they did not live to see it would be entrenched for generations to come.

These are the veterans that we honor on this November 11th; as they have honored us through their service and devotion, let us honor them in our thoughts and our hearts-today and throughout all of our free tomorrows. 

Local property taxes account for one-third of the total funds going into districts’ programs and represent about 43% of the overall state property tax funds levied. As discussed in prior articles, the state school funding formula largely determines school property tax rates and, the amount each district receives in state aid.

People often ask, “Why don’t we just remove property taxes from the formula entirely?” There are several reasons why this isn’t a wise move.

·       It would take away roughly $1.25 billion dollars statewide, leaving lawmakers to decide whether to raise the sales tax or income taxes to make up that difference.

·       Property taxes also add stability to the funding of school districts. For example, if we operated solely under the sales tax, the amount available for school funding would surely fluctuate depending on consumer spending.

·       Just as many people found out during the 1990’s, too much reliance on a single funding source invites large swings in funding, which isn’t good for an entity unable to adjust to midyear revenue changes. Diversification is a prudent investing strategy that applies to schools as well.

Considering the aforementioned reasons and the present revenue and political climate, removing property taxes from the school finance formula seems unlikely.

No public official, whether our local school board or city and county officials, takes the impact of raising property taxes lightly. In most cases, public officials exhaust all other options before asking property taxpayers for more funds. However, when the General Assembly cuts short state aid and we experience additional, unforeseen expenses such as increased fuel and energy prices, we really have no other alternative except to raise local property taxes or reduce expenditures. Seventy-five to 85 percent of the local budgets are comprised of salary and benefit costs, which doesn’t leave much discretionary spending to cut. No one likes property taxes, but they are an essential part of efficient funding of our schools. In comparing IKM-Manning to the other 351 school districts, with 1 the highest tax rate and 351 the lowest tax rate, IKM-Manning ranks 279th in total property tax rate (all funds) at $12.9411.

Once all of the districts in Iowa establish their budgets based on the combination of state aid and local property taxes they receive, there are still many restrictions on where and how that funding can be spent.

Congratulations to all of our fall extracurricular participants, you represented IKM-Manning in a great fashion, and thanks to all the coaches, volunteers, and especially parents.

Just a reminder that Burger Town hits the stage this week and great job on the fall concert this past week.

My presence in the buildings and at events generates many questions from students. Who is the superintendent? What is your purpose?

The school superintendent is a position that cannot operate in a vacuum. As the chief executive officer of the school district, the school superintendent must interact with the school board, principals, parents, community leaders, teachers and students. The school superintendent must be first and foremost, the education leader for the community. A good working relationship with the community and the school superintendent is the best guarantee for a quality education for young people.

The superintendent’s main role is one of leadership-leadership that helps the school board identify clear goals for the schools, leadership that interrupts policy guidelines to building principals and staff, and leadership that helps the community understand what the schools are and what they can become.

 The superintendent also leads the way in bringing together members of the community in support of education. Members of this coalition include parents, students, and adults with no children in school, school administrators, support staff and school board members.

The school board is the policy making body of the school district and employs the superintendent. Its selection of a superintendent will have a great impact on the kind of schools the community will develop.

The superintendent, as chief executive officer of the school district, receives general directions and outlines of goals and policies from the school board, and is charged by the board with organizing the staff to meet those goals. With the superintendent’s recommendation, the board determines the annual budget, sets the educational goals and approves the guidelines for relationships with all employee groups.

In almost all areas, the superintendent’s actions are guided by federal or state directives as well as school board policy.

The superintendent sets the tone for the ways in which a school district responds to parents and patrons. Even if the local school board welcomes community involvement in the schools, at board meetings and in planning sessions with the school staff, its success can be affected by the openness and influence of the superintendent. Federal and state policies do not address the relationship between schools and the community. If this partnership is to work, both parties have important roles to play. One way is the central office to be open for questions and concerns from all outside sources. Please feel free to stop by (755 Main Street in Manilla), call (712-654-2852), or e-mail ( questions or concerns.

I hope everyone is off to a GREAT start!

Yours in education,

Dr. Tom Ward, Superintendent

Iowa law guarantees that every child in the state receives an “equal” amount of money to fund his/her education. A district’s budget is basically derived from the number of children enrolled in the district multiplied by the district’s cost per child. However, economic factors change from year-to-year, and it is up to state lawmakers to decide just how much to increase the cost per child to reflect the change. This increase is called “allowable growth.”

Under the basic finance formula, each district’s spending is based upon a district cost per pupil.  The total amount the district is allowed to spend is that per pupil amount times the number of students enrolled. A district can spend less than the maximum, but cannot spend more.

An allowable growth rate is recommended by the Governor and established by the Legislature. The rate is multiplied by the state cost per pupil to calculate an allowable growth rate per pupil. All districts receive the same amount per pupil. Allowable growth per pupil is intended to further provide equity in school districts throughout the state because the legislature set a principle that each child is worth the same amount, no matter where he/she lives.

In the next article I will discuss on how property taxes determine how much each district receives in state aid.

I survived my first IKM-Manning Homecoming Week with very little stress. I personally want to thank those that came out to the pep assembly and showed their support for our students. It is great to see this kind of enthusiasm from our parents and the rest of the community. This is one of many reasons that make our district a great place to live and educate our youth.

Every year public schools in Iowa spend billions of dollars to educate children, sparking taxpayers to often ask school board members, administrators and lawmakers: “Where does that money go?” That’s why part of the IKM-ManningCommunity School District's mission is to help taxpayers understand how districts are spending that money, in an attempt to dispel the mysteries surrounding school funding.  Knowing how the state school funding formula works is important in helping understand the pressures we face as school superintendents and board members.

While the area of school finance is complex, some basic principles make it understandable to the average citizen, including: 

  1. The number of children enrolled in each district determines a district’s budget/revenues.
  2. The General Assembly through the finance formula “equalizes” funding statewide so the “cost per student” is roughly the same in every district and every student has access to quality education.
  3. The Governor recommends the annual change in per pupil allowable growth.  The    General Assembly is responsible for passing legislation to establish the annual increase in the “cost per student/allowable growth”.
  4. Property taxes matter. They determine how much money each district receives in state aid.
  5. Funds are restricted. We can only use funds on what the legislature tells us we can.
  6. Schools are budget limited. Most other public entities are property tax rate limited. This difference is monumental.
In an effort to explain where those tax dollars go I plan on presenting a number of articles to help you understand the area of school funding in Iowa. Please do not hesitate in asking questions on this subject.

I would like to congratulate the winners of the most recent board election. Dave Heller-District 2A, Scott Hodne-District 1A, and Lynn Barry-At Large will be serving 4 year terms.

My first “Coffee with Central Office” will be on October 5, in the Manilla Cafeteria starting at 9:30 a.m. This “Coffee” is an informal meeting with the general public to discuss and update our patrons on the IKM-Manning Schools.

Next week is Homecoming

I hope everyone took the time to relax and enjoy this past three day weekend. It was the official last day of summer and now that you are looking for something to do you should consider taking in some of the extracurricular activities taking place in the IKM-Manning School system. There is no better way to see our great kids in action. You have a lot to choose from; football, volleyball and XC on the sports scene and at all levels. Watch our cheerleaders as they support the teams and listen to our fine arts students as they play and sing the Star Spangled Banner and perform at half time.  Get out and support our kids.

This is a reminder on the IKM-Manning School Board election on September  13th and voting can be done absentee or on the day of the election in the Manilla City Hall. A person who runs for the board of education knows that the job entails long meetings, frustration, no compensation, and very little recognition. In a society in which minority groups participate fully, the concern of many groups often manifests itself in outcries, against policies, programs, and decisions proposed by board members. At these times, being a board member can be frustrating and a thankless experience. So please get out and vote to support these individuals running for a board seat.

In the very near future I will be hosting my first “Coffee with Central Office” an informal meeting that will give district patrons the opportunity to ask questions about our district and in turn update all on activities taking place. The purpose of these meetings is to better inform patrons about the workings of the IKM-Manning School District. I will keep you posted on the where and when of the first meeting.

Take the time to visit our website at to view access to extracurricular streaming of events, booster club clothing purchasing, and to register with Iowa School Alert for cell phone and e-mail notification of school closings.


PERFORMANCE GOAL #1:  The Superintendent will provide leadership for the District to better communicate with the general public those positive activities, programs, accomplishments, and district improvements to increase community awareness and understanding.

Indicators and measurements:  To the extent the school, community and the Board of Education provide the resources necessary; the Superintendent will implement the following activities:

1.    The Superintendent will cause to have public forums (coffees) for the purpose of public engagement.

2.    The Superintendent will participate as a visible part of the community as a representative of the District in such activities as the Open House, Parent Teacher Conferences, extra-curricular events, and any community organization.

3.    The Superintendent will cause to have greater use of the internet for community contact and school involvement.

Bi-Annually (December and May), the Superintendent will provide the Board of Education a report of the activities and written materials outlined by each of the indicators.

PERFORMANCE GOAL #2:  The Superintendent will evaluate the buildings in the District to assess needed repairs, maintenance and student utilization.  Subject to the Board’s funding of repairs, action shall be taken to ensure the safety of students and staff and to ensure compliance with prioritized needs addressed in the district’s most recent physical hazard survey conducted by EMC.

Indicators and measurements: 

1.    The Superintendent will meet with the building administrators, head of maintenance/grounds, and any other professionals as needed during the school year to review most recent physical hazard survey.

2.    A list will be developed documenting items in priority order.  The list will be prioritized based on student and staff safety concerns and the time and length of projects.

3.    The Superintendent will conduct a district wide survey which will indicate the best and most efficient use of district buildings.

No later than the December Board meeting, the Superintendent will present a report to the board outlining the results of patron surveys and in April will present a report to the board outlining those projects due to be completed the following summer or school year.

PERFORMANCE GOAL #3:  The Superintendent will provide leadership designed to improve student performance and promote academic improvement of the schools within the District.

Indicators and measurements:

1.     The Superintendent shall evaluate long-range curriculum objectives in order to challenge the academic skills of all students in the District.  This process shall require the Superintendent’s interactions with the Curriculum Director, all building level administrators, and professional development committee to identify the special and unique demands of students at all grade levels.

2.    The Superintendent shall direct the evaluation of all resource materials on a regular basis to ensure that all material is appropriate.

3.    The Superintendent shall present a comprehensive accountability system that includes quantitative as well as qualitative data.

Monthly, through the Curriculum Director, a report articulating student outcomes, evaluation of curricular strategies, adjustments needed to best serve students, and shall make recommendations for the Board’s consideration.  By the November Board meeting the Superintendent will present a new comprehensive accountability system.