WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — West Des Moines Community Schools is working to trim its budget for the 2021-22 school year by at least $2.5 million. The effort to discuss where to make cuts began in full in December. A committee of some 60 people worked to give ideas about what would be the best way to do this.
“This fall our enrollment it was down 170, and that was really a surprise to us. We did not expect that decline,” said West Des Moines Supt. of Schools Lisa Remy. “When we consider the expenditures, the low SSA (supplemental state aid) as well as in declining enrollment, it really made an impact for us to have to reduce our budget.”
The district had been operating at a deficit for three years, relying on reserve funds.
“We saw that decline in enrollment, the low SSA spending for ten plus years, and we’ve been spending more than we’ve been bringing in each year,” said Remy. “Then it’s just time for us to say we can’t continue … We’ve been fortunate to have reserves, but we’ve been spending those reserves down and it’s time for us to just reduce our budget.”
The district has a budget over $123 million a year. Eighty percent of the budge is personnel, salaries and benefits. The district needs to trim two or three percent. West Des Moines Community Schools has around 1,400 employees.
The district will hold a budget workshop on Feb. 22 at 5:15 p.m. They will follow that with the regular school board meeting. A final vote on reductions is scheduled for March 8.