Budget Process Underway For Wawasee Schools

Wawasee Community School Corporation interim Chief Financial Officer Dr. Brandon Penrod (L) provides a budget workshop to Superintendent Dr. Steve Troyer (C) and the School Board, including Board Secretary Rebecca Linnemeier (R). Photo by David Slone, Times-Union

SYRACUSE – Planning for Wawasee Community School Corporation’s budget for 2023 has been underway, with interim Chief Financial Officer Dr. Brandon Penrod leading the School Board through a budget workshop Tuesday.

After going through the workshop, the Board approved for Penrod to advertise the proposed budget on the public access site Gateway by Sept. 3.

The public hearing on the budget will be Sept. 13. At the October Board meeting will be the adoption of the budget and related plans. Everything will be sent by Nov. 1 to the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance for approval. From Nov. 1 to sometime in December, Penrod explained, the DLGF will work on Wawasee’s budget and then send Wawasee a 1782 Notice of what needs changed, if anything. Wawasee will need to respond to that notice and then the process should be completed.

Last year, Penrod noted, some schools did a two-year contract with their teachers. Wawasee is going to negotiate with their teachers again next month.

The first budget fund he presented was the Education Fund, previously called the General Fund. The proposed budget for 2023 is $21,641,503, a 5% increase over the 2022 budget.

“This is not supported by property tax. This goes way back to like 2008-09. This is when the property tax reform came about and the state took over the entire General Fund. It’s now called the Education Fund,” Penrod said.

When the state sales tax went from 6 to 7%, he said he helped fund the Education Fund.

The Foundation is the amount of dollars the state gives per student to each school. Last year, Penrod said that was $5,995, and is being increased by 4% to $6,235 for 2023. Student count days will be Sept. 16 and Feb. 1.

Out of the Education Fund, $750,000 per month will go into the Operations Fund to help pay for non-educational expenses like custodians.

The Debt Service Fund is funded by tax revenue and is proposed at $12,305,651 for 2023. That will be used to pay on any debts Wawasee Schools has.

The Operations Fund combines the former Capital Projects, Bus Replacement and Transportation funds. The proposed budget for 2023 is $10,145,806, funded partially by property tax as well as miscellaneous revenue, he said.

There is no tax levy for the Rainy Day Fund, and Penrod said he doesn’t foresee Wawasee using any of it. “We’re looking at a $750,000 appropriation, but we are probably not going to use any of it. It’s just kind of there,” he said.

Penrod told the Board the budget was figured based on a decrease of student enrollment, but the additional 4% for the Foundation kind of offsets the loss.

After some Board general questions and Penrod going over the budget forms, the Board approved the advertisement of the 2023 budget on Gateway.