Davenport School District pushes formula bill change


Emma Day

Dr. Tate talked with the Beak ‘n’ Eye staff about future changes in the district.

The formula bill determines the maximum amount a district can spend in a year. The Davenport Community district can spend $175 per student, while the Bettendorf Community district can spend $350 per student.

Davenport school council members are currently fighting for a state formula that funds each student equally. They are illegally dipping into reserve funds to help pay for budget shortfalls.

Dr. Art Tate has been superintendent of the Davenport district for six years and he has been fighting to change the amount of money the district gets.

“Saturday, we had a legislative forum and students came who were wearing ‘We are Worth-less’ T-shirts and it was a student driven group, and that was the time I decided that we needed to do something bold, so the following Monday I took my stand,” Tate said about dipping into the reserves.

The state legislature decides a per pupil dollar amount each year, that the district will receive for each student enrolled in that district. The district does not receive more than $200 million due to our drop in enrollment. The formula bill we use today is from the 1970s, students and Davenport school council members are trying to change it.

Senior Madison Cousins has been heavily involved with getting the formula bill changed.

“I support the formula bill. I think that if we didn’t have it we would be spending a lot of money that the state doesn’t have and it wouldn’t be good,” Cousins said.

The school district is considering the five year reduction plan which offers to increase class sizes at all levels and increase hours of school so students don’t have to go as many days.

Sophomore Ellie Sachleben wants to get more involved with the formula bill.

“I get why West doesn’t get as much money as Bettendorf or Pleasant Valley because they have fewer schools and we have a lot more schools to spread our money around in the district. But I don’t think it’s fair,” Sachleben said.

Bettendorf gets more money per student because they have a different formula bill than the davenport district. Until the 1960, funding relied on property taxes. The davenport district made a lot of school budget cuts due to lack of funding.

The school district is trying to fix this problem with the five year reduction plan. Even if the school board passes the five year reduction plan, the formula problem will never completely go away, due to the state not having enough money and the drop in enrollment in the davenport district.

If Tate could go back in time, would he still make the decision on dipping into the reserves?

“I would do it sooner as it takes a lot of time. It took a year-and-a-half to educate people on it because most people didn’t even know that the gap existed,” Tate said.