Tate requests 1.5 million reserve fund dip for school security

Are there any other options?


Emma Day

Superintendent Dr. Art Tate talks to West’s News Lab class during a press conference in the fall of 2017.

Billie Jo Sherman, Reporter

The infamous Feb. 14 Florida Parkland school shooting has motivated Superintendent Dr. Art Tate to strongly review school security for Davenport Schools. On Mar. 29, Tate sent a letter to Gov. Kim Reynolds and Iowa legislative leaders requesting school districts an opportunity to use reserve funds to strengthen school security staff.

Tate is showing his awareness by speeding up security improvements. The school board has agreed to speed up front entry security throughout the district. This plan would include more cameras and keycard entry. This project was initially supposed to take three years but under Tate’s request, is proposed to be completed in August.

The Davenport Community School District’s (DCSD)  Vision 2020 Plan represents the vision the district has, and the difficulties it is facing. In the Vision 2020 presentation, Tate states that DCSD is continually falling in enrollment. Since the 1991-1992 school year, the district has had a total loss of 2,298 students, and with fewer students, come less funding. The Vision 2020 presentation also reports that the district will be faced with a $136,274,250 dollar loss in revenue over the next few years. The district will need to come up with approximately $20,000 dollars over the next five years to counter the continuing drop of enrollment.

The Vision 2020 Plan introduces numerous budget-cutting proposals. One of the proposals is to move Monroe Elementary students into Smart Intermediate for the 2019-2020 school year. Smart students would be forced to spread between the remaining three schools: Walcott, Wood and Williams Intermediate. This would be the second school closed on the south side of Davenport in two years. This vote will take place in September of 2018.

Another proposal is teacher cuts, as well as early retirement incentives.

“The staff is the most expensive thing we have,” Tate said. “It’s about 80 percent of our budget, and so because of the loss of enrollment, we need fewer teachers and also we’re increasing class sizes a little bit in the elementary school and that’s the way that we get our teacher cuts.”

Included in the 1.5 million dollar request, Tate wants to spend money on district-level security, a mental-health coordinator, security guards, as well as caseworkers. While the district does have a $800,000 budget for safety, Tate has confirmed that this is merely for structural changes.

“[From that fund] We can’t spend any money for people,” Tate said.

Tate informs the leaders that he is in a position where it is either funding the security program or providing quality education.

“I cannot do that,” Tate said. “Both are mandatory.”

Grants are tapped out and Tate cannot do it with the resources he has.

“I know of no other place to turn and I am appealing to you to help,” Tate said.

Tate believes that the time to get serious about school safety is now.

“I am not an alarmist,” Tate said.“I have 26 years of active service in the Army, three of which were in combat. I know when it is time to get concerned about defense; now is that time.”