The Decorah Community School District Board of Directors wishes to inform residents of the district about a crucial aspect of the Board’s financial planning, particularly in light of the new Iowa Law called House File 718 and the upcoming budget publication deadline on March 15.

As mandated by Iowa law, school districts are required to submit their budgets by March 15 to the county auditor. However, the challenge currently faced is the absence of a set Supplemental State Aid (SSA) for the upcoming year. SSA, the per-pupil state aid for K-12 public schools, significantly influences the overall tax rate, a key component of the district’s budgetary considerations.

Although Iowa law requires the legislature to establish the level of SSA within 30 days of the governor releasing her proposed budget, that deadline has passed–without the level of SSA for the upcoming year being established. In light of this uncertainty, the Decorah Community School District has taken the responsible step of estimating the SSA at 3%, resulting in an overall tax rate of $12.37. This estimate aligns with tax rates of previous years.

However, should the legislature set an SSA lower than 3%, it will impact the overall tax rate. In anticipation of this, the district will submit a budget on March 15 using a conservative estimate–assuming a 0% SSA–leading to a tax rate of $12.55. This precautionary measure is taken to ensure compliance with the statutory deadline.

It is important to note that the School Board retains the authority to revise the budget after the SSA is established. In the event that the SSA aligns with the initial estimate of 3%, the Board has the capacity to pass a lower tax rate, reverting back to $12.37. The Board is only permitted to reduce the tax rate and is not authorized to increase it.  The Board has committed to revisiting the tax rate after SSA is determined and will set the tax rate within a range between $12.35-$12.40, consistent with recent history of tax rates.  

Superintendent Tim Cronin shared, “We acknowledge the potential impact of this on our community, and we assure you that this matter is entirely contingent on the timely setting of SSA by the legislature. We remain committed to transparency and responsible fiscal management. Thank you for your understanding and continued support as we navigate these budgetary complexities. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out.”