Feb 9, 2024 - Education

Des Moines Public Schools eyes $14 million cuts, including school staff

Illustration of two backpacks; one empty and one stuffed with cash.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Des Moines Public Schools may have to cut $14 million from its budget for the next school year.

Why it matters: Identified potential cuts include $1 million to high school staff, as well as $3 million in staff cuts across the district due to declining enrollment.

  • The remaining $11 million in cuts has not yet been determined.

State of play: For years, DMPS has faced financial challenges due to declining enrollment, coupled with increasing operating costs.

  • Over the last five years, the district lost 2,287 students — the equivalent of one large high school.

What's new: DMPS CFO Shashank Aurora tells Axios that Gov. Kim Reynolds' education proposals this session have resulted in budgetary unknowns for school districts.

  • Reynolds has proposed raising new teacher salaries from $33.5K to $50K while requiring teachers with 12 or more years of experience to earn $62,000.
  • She also proposed changing how Area Education Agencies are funded and giving schools a 2.5% increase in supplemental state aid, the largest source of funding for schools' general funds.

Yes, but: State funding hasn't kept up with increasing operating costs, Aurora says.

What they're saying: While he agrees teachers should earn more, focusing only on them instead of the rest of the rest of school staff can create messy union negotiations, Aurora says.

  • Ultimately, Aurora wants lawmakers to increase funding to schools so that they can raise salaries themselves.

Between the lines: Even if Reynolds' proposals don't end up passing, the district still needs to cut millions to balance its budget.

Of note: DMPS also does not expect to raise its property tax rates next fiscal year, though homeowners may still pay more due to rising home valuations.


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