Warsaw School Board got its introduction to the school corporation’s proposed $82 million budget for 2019 Monday.
Chief Financial Officer Dr. Brandon Penrod began discussing next year’s budget by reminding the board that House Enrolled Act 1009 impacts school corporation funds beginning Jan. 1. The bill eliminates the school general fund and creates an education fund for expenditures related to student instruction and learning, as well as an operations fund to replace the capital projects, transportation, art association, historical society, playground and the bus replacement funds, according to a state website.
Starting with the newly created education fund, Financial Operations Manager April Fitterling said the full-day kindergarten budget for 2019 is proposed at $1,674,000; elementary fund, $14,220,500; middle school fund, $4,052,500; and high school fund, $9,455,750. Each of those budgets includes instructional, personnel, supplies and professional development and all four total $29,403,450.
For special education, the total budget is $3,650,760; adult education, $3,000; summer school, $624,350; and remediation, $119,720. Penrod said Warsaw Community Schools spends more than $3,000 on adult education but that’s all it spends on adult education out of that particular fund.
Support services is proposed at $3,956,665 for 2019. It includes attendance, guidance, nurses and special education.
Instructional staff training is $2,325,477.
Building-level administration – such as principals, assistant principals – is proposed at $3,839,700. Penrod pointed out that number includes administrative assistants, supplies, travel, benefits, etc. “Not just salary,” he said.
Operation of noninstructional services for 2019 is proposed at $497,500.
Those figures put the total of the 2019 education fund at $44,905,627. Fitterling said there will be additional cuts.
Penrod said it’s tough to compare the 2019 education fund with prior general funds because they’re not “apples to apples.”
“We do have to advertise a little higher than what we might need knowing we’ll be cut to protect ourselves from the process that we go through,” Penrod said.
Sheila Howie, former financial operations manager and now human resources director, explained the 2019 operations tax funds. Those include the debt service, pension debt, rainy day and referendum funds.
She said the total school operations budget is $23,444,486, with a total advertised levy of $11,953,654. “These expenses include our salaries, our benefits, maintenance, fuel because within this fund we have transportation and bus replacement so those funds are no longer stand-alone silos anymore. They’re all put in here,” Howie said.
One of the benefits is more flexibility, Penrod said. If one fund has a excess, money can be moved to support another fund project. “We’ll have a little more flexibility at the local level as to what our appropriation needs and not have excess money sitting in (one fund) that will never be touched.”
He said the bill gives schools more freedom but also more accountability.
Debt service fund for 2019 is proposed at $8,816,486 with a total advertised tax levy of $10,640,298.
Penrod said the levy is higher than the proposed budget because “No. 1, so we can cut down where we need to cut down. We made sure to advertise high enough to get the rate we need to fund our budget. No. 2, we are allowed to carry some forward to pay what would be the first payment of 2019.”
The pension fund for 2019 is proposed at $271,811 with a total advertised levy at $236,703. This fund is “tax neutral,” Penrod said, so it comes from another fund. He said WCS makes one payment in 2019 and then that particular debt is gone. “In 2020, this money goes back into the operations fund,” he said.
The rainy day fund for 2019 is proposed at $1.7 million, the same as last year, Penrod said. There is no tax levy for the fund, which is used for emergencies.
The referendum fund works like a debt service fund, but Penrod said the only difference is it’s “outside the property tax caps.” Its proposed budget for 2019 is $2,883,000, with a total advertised tax levy of $3,520,367.
There will be a public hearing and public adoption on the 2019 budget. It also will be advertised online through the state’s site at Gateway. Budgets need to be back to the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance by Dec. 31.
This morning Superintendent Dr. David Hoffert said under the old system, the budget was advertised in August, gone through in September and given final approval in October. Under the new system, approval of the budget could be later in October.
Hoffert said there will be no substantial change to the tax rate for next year. It will be about right where it’s been the last few years, around $.86. He said WCS has one of the lowest tax rates in Indiana.