Maquoketa Schools in Strong Financial Position; Schools Are Not Closing

March 8, 2018 – The Maquoketa Board of Education met on March 1 to discuss the School District (MCSD) Facilities. The focus of the meeting was to discuss three topics: the viability of a bond referendum, whether to place a new HVAC system in the middle school, and whether contributing monies to a new Ag Facility was viable for the district. In order for those decisions to eventually be made, the Board was forward thinking and began to consider All aspects of district facilities and the challenges that may be faced in the next 5, 10, or 20 years.  The movement of any grade levels between schools or school closings were nothing more than “what if” scenarios.  For example, what options need to be considered if enrollment and state funding continue to decline?  However, before any decisions could possibly be made, a process to engage staff and community in the discussion of these challenges needs to take place.  Our students deserve the best, and that means being prepared for the good and the bad.  Starting these conversations now will prepare us for whatever future may come.

Specifically, in reference to portions of the article in the Sentinel Press, I feel that further clarification would be valuable and important for the community and staff.  We greatly appreciate the media coverage and interest in MCSD.  However, any perceptions that MCSD is facing financial woes are not a true reflection of our current finances.  Our budget was not discussed in the meeting, excluding a reference to student enrollment. 

MCSD currently has an Unspent Authorized Balance of $3.5 million, which is approximately 18% of our annual revenue.  Unspent Authorized Balance is a figure that essentially shows how well a school district managed their budget.  For example, if a school district spends more than they bring in, then the Unspent Authorized Balance would fall.  If the school district does not spend all of the annual funds they are allowed to spend, then the Unspent Authorized Balance goes up. 

MCSD also has a General Fund Balance just over $4 Million. The General Fund Balance is essentially a measurement of how much cash is available in the General Fund. This is a very solid figure for a school district to have and is a testament of the District’s goals to ensure that MCSD is financially prepared for the future.

The quote referenced in the article from President, Mike Hayward, was regarding concerns about the open concept that was used in the development of Cardinal Elementary and the building’s floor plan.  Uneven heating and cooling issues also pose concerns within the building.

Facilities Director, Mike Wing, expressed his concerns about the lack of real storage space and the fact that boxes, crates, and book cases are often stacked and used to create artificial “walls” between classrooms. Board member, Tanya Roeder’s, statement about how, ‘Cardinal feels like it’s on the edge,’ is a reference to its physical location on the outside of town in relation to our other school buildings.

Now is the time to begin looking to the future.  Not just a year or two down the road.  No decisions can be reached however, without the input of the Maquoketa community. It never has been and never will be our policy to make a unilateral decision without seeking community input. The board is tasked with preparing the District for the future, and that can be a pretty broad target. What we know for certain is that all plans will be based on doing what is best for Maquoketa students.

Respectfully Submitted,

Chris Hoover
Maquoketa Community Schools Superintendent