The superintendent of Davenport schools says he’s planning to dip into the district’s reserve funds to spend more “per pupil” than allowed by state law. Art Tate says he has the backing of the school board to take the action. “We don’t have permission to do that, it’s against state law, but I’ve declared I’m going to do it anyway,” Tate said.
Tate notes the district has around $6 million in unspent budget dollars this year and he wants to equalize his district’s per pupil spending with neighboring districts. “I’m going to dip into that…so we’ll still be legal for this school year. But come the following school year, still following the model of I’m going to add another $175 per student to whatever the state gives us, we will run out of state allowable spending. We will have to go into our reserves,” Tate said.
The Davenport school board is asking the legislature to change Iowa’s school finance laws, which have a built-in disparity dating back to when the state first tried to lessen the gap between tax-prosperous and tax-poor districts. Davenport’s maximum spending is around $175 per student less than allowed in districts at the top of the per-pupil scale.
(Reporting by Dean Borg, Iowa Public Radio / additional reporting by Pat Curtis, Radio Iowa)