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From The Desk of Mr. Dicks - March 2016 PDF Print E-mail

District Budget


I have been optimistically waiting for the Legislature to set State Supplemental Aid(SSA) and on March 22nd, the House and Senate agreed to 2.25% funding for schools. So, my “optimistic” waiting will continue. This funding rate affects our Unspent Balance, that can be likened to our credit card. Schools can only spend as much “legal authority” as we have. This is not cash, but only the authority to spend. You can have $1,000,000 in the bank, but if you only have the authority to spend $700,000, you can only legally spend $700,000.


I will do my best to help our supportive tax paying community to understand how this affects our district's’ budget and tax asking. First, our enrollment decline of 53 students will naturally make our tax rate go up, so low SSA coupled with enrollment decline, makes the local property tax rate increase. Second, other factors included in our tax rate are cash reserve levy, management fund levy, legislated commercial property tax relief, and the bond for the Stewart Preschool/Daycare addition.


The management levy will help pay for our incentivized early retirement packages, but I will remind you, it is one of the only tools we have to move higher salaried teachers/administrators off of our salary scale and replace with less costly teachers. The incentive is paid out of management and the savings are realized in our general fund, our most important. Through FY2011 - FY2017 SSA has been set at 2%, 0%, 2%, 2% + 2% one time funding, 4%, 1.25% and 2.25% respectively. The average on those 7 years is 2.07%. We are bound by Iowa Code to collectively bargain with our teaching and support unions respectively, and would be bound by arbitration if an agreement is not met. I choose to settle, rather than occupy time and emotions, when our unions have come in reasonable.

Last Updated on Monday, March 28 2016 10:21
From The Desk of Mr. Dicks - February 2016 PDF Print E-mail

On February 16, Washington Community School hosted its 2nd Annual Tech Talk Day. What is a Tech Talk Day? To put into words doesn’t do it justice, but it is really a “must see” in order to comprehend the impact that it had on our staff. There were 30 sessions available for staff to choose from that fits their particular professional development needs. We started the day with Mitch Kelly, with a keynote titled “The Hawkeye Way”. His story of growing up in a single parent home with 4 older brothers and 2 younger sisters, hitchhiking to University of Iowa and becoming a walk-on wrestler, was inspiring to say the least. Mitch also shared his experiences that enhance his own teaching to produce students who understand how important being a good learner is. You see, the day is called Tech Talk Day, but it is really about the use of technology to improve teaching and learning for staff and students.

Last Updated on Thursday, February 18 2016 15:02
From The Desk of Mr. Dicks - January 2016 PDF Print E-mail

I attended my first Legislative Briefing on Saturday, January 16 with Jared Klein and David Heaton representing the House of Representatives and Rich Taylor and Kevin Kinney representing the Senate. I appreciated the opportunity to meet all of them and appreciate the work they do not only for Washington Community Schools but all of the other constituents. In times of tough budgets, their work is as challenging as ever.


As I look at the Governor’s comments regarding the budget it becomes frustrating that we fail to get agreement on what money is available for budgeting purposes. “Today’s unemployment rate has been cut nearly in half to 3.4%. Which is down from 6.1% five years ago. Iowa has the lowest unemployment rate since 2001. Iowa family incomes have grown 18.3% from 2010. We have seen over $12 billion in private capital investment. We worked in a bipartisan fashion last session to improve both Iowa’s physical and digital infrastructure”.

Last Updated on Thursday, January 28 2016 09:33
From The Desk of Mr. Dicks - December 2015 PDF Print E-mail

Moving Forward

The deadline for open enrollment is March 1, 2016 for next Fall. This is an important issue for those that chose to make an educational decision that is best for their family. There are many reasons for open enrollment, ranging from certain programs a school offers, better fit geographically, participating in sports, or academic offerings. Washington currently has 144 students K-12 open enroll out, with another 8 students who open enroll out who are home school assistance (HSA) for a total of 152. We do have 66 students who choose to open enroll in, with an additional 28 students who open enroll in and are partially funded through HSA. So for our regular education students, we are at a deficit of 78 students. This equates to nearly $500,000 lost funding that is sent to other districts. The good news is, recently, I have received numerous informational calls regarding the opportunities available at Washington.

Last Updated on Tuesday, December 22 2015 14:43

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