Feb 14, 2023 - News

Des Moines school board president talks budget cuts, enrollment

Des Moines Public Schools board chair Teree Caldwell-Johnson presented the State of the Schools at East High School on February 13th. Photo courtesy of DMPS

2023 is expected to bring major changes for the Des Moines school district, as board members focus on hiring a new superintendent while also cutting nearly $10 million from next year's budget.

Driving the news: Teree Caldwell-Johnson, a 17-year school board veteran and the current president, talks about what's up ahead in an exclusive interview with Axios:

🀝 Relationship with future superintendent: While there were "hiccups" between the school board and former Superintendent Tom Ahart, the "natural tension" in superintendent-school board relationships creates stronger accountability and collaboration, Caldwell-Johnson says.

⏱ How DMPS has changed since she started in 2006: The biggest change has been student demographics and becoming a "majority-minority" district.

  • An influx of non-English speaking students and lower-income students have required the district to provide a "broader safety net," like meals and clothing.
  • The percent of DMPS student who are non-white has more than doubled in the past 20 years, from 30.4% in 2001-02 to 65.3% in 2021-22.

πŸ’΅ Budget cuts: Due to lower student enrollment, DMPS will need to cut nearly $10 million from its FY 2024 budget, which includes staff.

  • Especially with the governor's new law allowing private school scholarships, Caldwell-Johnson says it will be difficult to predict upcoming district enrollment.
  • Proposed cuts could include 2% of teaching staff, 5% of support staff and 5% of central office staff, the Register reports.

πŸ‘©β€πŸŽ“ How to attract students: Find a superintendent who has experience working in a state with a school voucher program and do a better job telling the district's story.

πŸ‘©πŸ½β€πŸ« What she'd like to see more of: Teachers of color. She suggests DMPS make an effort to recruit teachers from historically Black colleges and universities and Teach for America.

  • "Improving relationships will improve outcomes," Caldwell-Johnson said.

πŸ‘‹ What's next: This is Caldwell-Johnson's fifth and final term on the school board. For the next two years, she plans on helping the new superintendent and members acclimate before stepping down.


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