DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) – A primary school in Dubac may close as early as the end of the school year as part of a program that members of the Dubok Community School District are considering in an effort to reduce costs.
“It’s a short-term pain,” Superintendent Stan Rangens recalled. “But, in the long run, it’s the right first step to put the county in a great position to move forward.”
Rangens said it all comes down to budget. He explained that schools in Iowa are funded on a student basis. In the last five years, and looking at next year’s forecasts, the county will drop by 600 students.
“Ultimately, you have no choice but to find efficiency and one of those efficiencies is closing a school,” he added. “When you have 600 students and you have buildings of less than 300, it’s a great way to save money.”
The commissioner said low supplementary government assistance, a drop in enrollment and high inflation left the district with no choice but to look into the possibility of reducing the number of schools in the district.
In this case, county officials are considering closing Fulton Elementary School. Rheingans said they examined the two-part elementary schools because they are more expensive per student compared to the four-part schools. They examined the fastest decline in enrollment and other factors, such as age building and proximity to other schools. He says that’s how Fulton was chosen.
“We think there are some opportunities to do better programming for our children, pay our staff better down the road when our budget improves based on less operating expenses of having fewer schools,” he explained, adding that the move to close Fulton could save the county $ 1 million a year.
Rheingans said the county would have no problem allocating students in Fulton to nearby schools. He also said making the move now would allow them to keep all of Fulton’s staff.
“Because of the number of open places we have for next year in our elementary school because of retirement or just people leaving Dubok, we can assure all those people who will have a teaching role, a non-professional position, a guard position, a principal position,” he remarked. “We have openings in all of these areas so we can absorb all of this staff.”
School board members asked the Rangers on Tuesday night to present a plan as to what the county would do with students who would be left without a school if Fulton closes. Rangens told TV9 he would show it next Monday night. This is when school board members expect to make a final decision on whether to close the school.
School district officials are also considering reducing the number of middle schools from three to two. Rangens said the move could save the county about $ 4 million a year. However, this will not take place for several years.
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