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Positive Financial Outlook For School District

By Staff | Aug 26, 2008

In a time when many school districts across Iowa are scrambling to make ends meet, the outlook for the Emmetsburg Community School District is very positive. Highlights from the 2007-2008 school year were reviewed when Superintendent John Joynt presented the Superintendent’s Annual Report during the Aug. 18, meeting of the Emmetsburg Community Schools Board of Education.

The superintendent touched on seven topics, including Students, Achievement, Finance, District Goals, Facilities, Personnel, and Extra Curricular.

According to Joynt:

• Student enrollment was down in 2007-2008 by 32 students (six resident students). Open-enrolled students decreased and open enrollment out, decreased. Open-enrolled students constitute approximately 13 percent of the student population.

“We were down 32 students total, which surprised me,” said Joynt. “I thought there was going to be 20, but there were ten open enrollment kids who graduated.”

• All of the district’s goals were met for the federal Adequate Yearly Progress report required by No Child Left Behind legislation. Most grade levels experienced gains, and ACT scores for the 2008 graduates were very good and above the state averages in all but one category.

“With the ACT test, we were higher than the state average in four out of five categories,” Joynt shared.

• The district has a positive fund balance due to the $250,000 cash reserve levy from the past three years; the district also has a large unspent balance, which is taxing authority. The district also has a growing tax base that maintains its tax collection totals while reducing the tax rate.

“We ended in the black again,” said Joynt. “We’ve had some schools making the papers that are spending more money than they have authority to spend, and there’s a negative number on that bottom line. That’s against the law.”

Joynt continued, “Our tax levies have been going down. We’re well below the state average. This year we were around $12, next year we’ll be around $11.”

• The new Middle School and gymnasium structures are up, and the auditorium has been started. The current Middle School has not been sold although there have been inquiries. Administration is considering adding preschool rooms at the West Elementary.

• The district has added an at-risk teacher at the high school, a position funded with drop-out prevention money. Board members heard from district patrons about a perceived problem of young teachers leaving the district. The board agreed that the board president should view all exit survey. Both the board and administration agreed that the reasons for leaving the district should never be school-related.

• High participation rates add to success in extra curricular activities. The board recognizes the advantages of quality extra curricular programs at a reasonable cost. The board also recognizes the disparity in enrollment sizes among the Lakes Conference schools and has supported the concept of sharing sports with Ruthven-Ayrshire Community School.

“We’ll cover this in more detail at our September board workshop,” said Joynt. “We’ll set some new goals, and see where we’re going and where we’ve been.”