The Iowa Department of Education recently sent letters to 60 school districts statewide that are on track to overspend their budgets in the upcoming school year. South Hamilton School District in Jewell is among them. Superintendent Lyle Schwartz says the district is working to address the situation.
Schwartz says: "South Hamilton has started that process. We are very aware of where we are and our board is very committed to doing what we need to do to get it back to where we want to…and to provide a high-quality education for our students."
The district’s budget shortfall is projected to be over $529,000 while the shortfall next year is estimated at over 1.2 million. Schwartz said he is confident the shortfall can be brought under control. He says the letter from the state was to-the-point.
"It wasn’t a surprise. We were already aware that our unspent balance over the past few years has been declining. Our board really started talking in November about how we were going to address the situation," Schwartz says. Iowa has more than 360 school districts. The state says one-sixth of the districts are on brink of serious financial trouble.
Education officials say 22 districts were expected to overspend in this past school year, with 60 on the list for the next school year. Several local school district officials say the letters never arrived — or are inaccurate with their gloomy financial forecasts.