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CCA working with positive numbers

OXFORD– In the 2010-2011 school year, the Clear Creek Amana (CCA) school district took in more money than it spent, and is anticipated to do so again in the 2011-2012 school year.
Board Secretary and Treasurer Lori Robertson presented the district’s “Certified Annual Report” (CAR) at the Sept. 21 school board work session, at Clear Creek Elementary in Oxford.
Certified revenues for all funds totaled $24,343,245. Of that amount 38 percent came from property taxes within the district, 30 percent was from state aid and 22 percent came from local sources. The property tax levy was $15.91 per $1,000 of assessed valuation last year and is set for a slightly lower $15.748 this year. The levy provides dollars to the district’s General Fund ($11.046), Management ($1.050), the Amana Library ($0.200), the voter approved Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) and Board approved PPEL ($0.370 and $0.330 respectively) as well as to Debt Service paying off bonds for buildings and facilities ($2.914).
The General Fund pays all salaries and benefits for district employees, provides money for maintenance and operations, buys supplies, provides dollars for transportation, funds English as a Second Language (ESL) classes, funds “At-Risk” and “Talented and Gifted” programs as well as extracurricular protective equipment.
The Management Fund covers unemployment insurance, property and casualty insurance, pays for any judgments against the district, funds early retirement benefits as well as any workman’s compensation claims.
Certified expenditures for all funds equaled $23,221,133. Instruction was the largest expenditure, accounting for $41.2 percent of the districts’ expenses. Instruction funds provide the dollars for direct contact with the students, i.e.: teacher salaries and benefits, and educational supplies. Support totaled 22.4 percent and pays for guidance services, media and technology, maintenance and transportation; as well as developmental support for the faculty. “Other” constituted 31.1 percent of the expenditures, and pays for debt payments, facilities acquisition and construction and the Area Education Agency (AEA) “flow-through.” Grant Wood AEA is funded in part by tax dollars collected in the district which flow directly to the agency to fund a multitude of services.
Non-Instructional expenses totaled only 5.3 percent of the district’s expenses and include such items as food services, day care and the pool.
The district relies on state aid for 30 percent of its income. The state provides dollars to CCA based on a formula taking the certified enrollment of the district (annually on Oct. 1) multiplied by the cost per student. An interesting twist in this funding stream is that last year’s students are the basis for this year’s aid.
Cost per student also factors into open enrollment. If a student open enrolls into the district, the resident district from which they transfer pays CCA $5,919, the cost per pupil. Likewise, if a student transfers out of the district, CCA pays $5,919 to the receiving school district. Robertson pointed out that if a student misses the deadline for open enrollment and still wishes to come to a CCA school, and space is available, then their parents must pay the $5,919 as tuition. Foreign exchange students are exempt from this tuition requirement, which is one reason the district limits the opportunity to no more than three each year.
Another interesting factor in CCA’s financing is that district is the highest in the state for the amount of assessed property in Tax Increment Financing (TIF), a sore spot with some board members. Forty-three percent of the property in the district is in a TIF zone.
“That’s not when you want to be number one,” said board member Aimee Pitlick.
“Embrace it, because that’s all we can do,” said Tim Hennes, out-going board president, adding that TIF is “a Catch-22. Without it, there’s no development, but you do without revenue for awhile.” In 2018, the district anticipates reaping tax benefits from the Coral Ridge Mall in Coralville, on the eastern edge of the CCA district, as its TIF will expire, finally releasing a wave of tax revenue.
Superintendent Dr. Denise Schares was encouraged by the report, which is submitted to the State Department of Education.
“We are fortunate to be in a very stable financial condition despite the challenges of recent across the board cuts, zero percent allowable growth and increased expenses. The Board and administration have worked diligently in the past and continue to work to align the resources of the district with the needs of the students,” Schares said.
As enrollment continues to increase, particularly on the eastern half of the large district, more spending on brick and mortar projects may be seen.
“We’ll have more buildings to build if growth continues,” Hennes said.