WATERLOO — Waterloo Community Schools is seeking increased budget authority for costs related to enrollment and asbestos removal.
The Board of Education this week approved submitting two applications for modified allowable growth to the state’s School Budget Review Committee. A $825,044 request is related to enrollment issues while a $42,383 request is for asbestos removal.
“We count our kids each fall, but that is to fund the next year’s budget,” said Michael Coughlin, chief financial officer. As a result of an increase of 43.9 pupils in this fall’s certified enrollment count, the district is seeking additional budget authority of $292,550 for the current school year. The total dollar amount is determined based on the state’s per pupil funding levels.
Another $212,889 in authority is being sought for “kids in the district this year that open enroll out, but they weren’t on last year’s count,” said Coughlin. Waterloo Schools is supposed to receive that funding from the state and then pass it on to the districts where the students are attending through open enrollment. There were 76.2 pupils not included in last year’s count, which was adjusted by subtracting the certified enrollment increase before determining the funding total.
The final enrollment component is for 218 English language learners who by this fall had been receiving special instruction through the district for more than five years. That would extend the additional funding Waterloo Schools receives for that ELL instruction by $319,605.
If approved, the increased budget authority doesn’t boost funding for the district until the next fiscal year. “This will be presented in the 18-19 budget as additional cash reserve (levy),” said Coughlin.
The asbestos request is for removal, management or abatement of environmental hazards due to state or federal requirements. The hazardous material was used in various parts of school buildings in the past — such as insulation, floor tiles, piping and windows — and has to be removed under Iowa law before demolition or improvements that would disturb the materials can begin.
Included items have occurred during the past year, when the district last asked for increased budget authority related to asbestos removal. “These all have been paid for long ago,” said Coughlin.
More than half of the amount, or $24,820, is for asbestos removal from the former Devonshire School. Other asbestos removal work is at the old bus garage ($5,888), Expo High School ($4,100) and West High School ($3,980). Devonshire and the bus garage have since been demolished.
Remaining funds are for asbestos inspection at the old Orange School; Hoover, Bunger and Central middle schools; and East and West high schools. The increased authority associated with those items totals $3,595.
“This is kind of the end of a long history of Waterloo and asbestos projects,” said Coughlin, since renovations and new construction started in the district after voters approved the 1 percent sales tax in 1999. He noted there have been more than $2.5 million in asbestos projects during that time.
In other business, the board:
Approved specifications and seeking bids for roofing projects covering portions of the buildings at Bunger, Hoover and East.
Accepted $1,800 in donations for robotics teams at six schools and the district as a whole from the Community Foundation of Northeast Iowa on behalf of the Leighty Fund. They include Highland, Kingsley, Orange and Cunningham elementary schools plus Hoover and East.