Cedar Rapids school board approves budget, unchanged tax rate

Board will review line-item cost cuts at April 28 meeting

CEDAR RAPIDS — Members of the Cedar Rapids Community School District’s school board approved the district’s fiscal year 2015 budget during a regular meeting last night.

The certified budget includes $264.15 million in revenues and $260.09 million in expenditures and a $15.48 per $1,000 taxable valuation levy rate. The tax rate is identical to the current level for district residents.

Today is the deadline for Iowa school boards to approve district budgets, but members have until June 30 — the eve of the start of the fiscal year — to finalize the line-item budget.

Cedar Rapids administrators have set a $6 million target of combined new revenue and cost cuts for next year and Steve Graham, executive director of business services for the district, said board members will review the full list of those adjustments at the April 28 regular meeting and work session.

Graham presented participation in Specialty Underwriters’ Equipment Breakdown Insurance Program — which covers repair and replacement of items in 57 categories such as laptop computers and tablets — as a piece of the adjustment strategy. The $796,390 cost for a one-year policy would come from the district’s management fund, while the anticipated $517,654 in revenue from the program would go into the general fund.

Following a presentation from Specialty Underwriters representatives, board members raised concerns — ranging from how much the district spends on equipment repair and replacement to the fiscal responsibility of shifting those dollars — and tabled a planned vote on district participation in the program.

Graham said he’ll provide additional information to the board at a later date, likely April 28, for potential approval. If the board opts into the program, Graham said no changes to the certified budget will be necessary.

Graham did not say whether or not administrators would have to find that more than $500,000 from elsewhere in the general fund should board members decide against the policy. “We’ll just have to wait and see what the board does,” he said.

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