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School budgets afflicted, too

CCA board discusses how COVID-19 may impact district funding

OXFORD– The Clear Creek Amana (CCA) Community School District, like districts across the state, has been directly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools were recommended to close for four weeks on March 15 by Gov. Kim Reynolds, and are tentatively scheduled to reopen on Monday, April 13. While the district cannot, under Iowa law, force its students to participate in online learning, many teachers are providing lessons as the district provides tablets and Internet connectivity. Foreign exchange students were forced to return to their home countries, and a trip to Germany for CCA students was cancelled. The district has also undertaken an effort to provide free meals for its students with an average of 500 meals per day distributed across several sites.
Once the virus has run its course, however, the district will likely feel lingering effects in the form of a sick budget. Superintendent Tim Kuehl and District Finance Officer (and Board Secretary) Lori Robertson discussed the potential wave of financial woe with the board Wednesday, March 25, during a regular monthly meeting at the district’s administrative offices near Oxford.
A public hearing on the 2020-2021 (Fiscal Year 2021) budget was held without any comments having been received prior to the meeting, and no call-ins during the hearing (a phone number was provided on the posted agenda for the meeting).
Among the many unknowns facing the board are how actions taken now will impact next year’s (FY21) budget, as well as how great the impact will be on the district’s revenue the longer the virus is prevalent. With many businesses closed or greatly downsized, unemployment claims in the state have skyrocketed.
On Thursday, March 19, the Iowa Department of Revenue extended the filing and payment deadline for several state taxes including income tax to July 31.
“From a cash flow standpoint, if there’s people unable to pay their property taxes, that will affect us, that’s part of our collection,” Robertson said.
“And on the income tax side of things, too,” Kuehl added. Revenue going into the Secure an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE) fund will also likely be less as it is generated by a sales tax. “Right now, people aren’t out spending money, and if people have less income, that affects our general fund as well as PPEL (Physical Plant and Equipment Levy) because part of that is collected from income taxes. If people aren’t working, they’re not paying income tax either,” Robertson said, “so there could be some effects on our revenue.”
“If they (the state of Iowa) don’t get it (revenue), they don’t flow it,” Kuehl said.