Des Moines school board president talks budget cuts, enrollment
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.
💵 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.
👩🎓 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.
👩🏽🏫 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.
👋 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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