FWCS announces salary increase - April 13, 2006
Record Number: 2378
Displayed from: Apr 13, 2006 , until: May 11, 2006
Thanks to several unexpected economic turns and a dedicated staff who have steadfastly adhered to the deep cuts the district made in 2003, Fort Wayne Community Schools' financial status is healthier than expected. In that light, FWCS Superintendent Dr. Wendy Robinson announced today she will recommend that Board of School Trustees approve an additional1 percent salary increase for all staff. The increase will be retroactive to the beginning the employee's contract year. We would be remiss if we didn't show our appreciation to the people who have, every day, worked so hard for the children of this community, said Dr. Robinson. The district has asked for more and more from all of our employees, yet we have not been able to adequately compensate them. Now we can reaffirm to them that this community values their diligence and commitment to student success. FWCS has always based its annual budgets on conservative projections of a worse-case scenario nature. For the 2006 budget, that meant continuing to stay inside the $11 million annual cuts the district made three years ago, as well as anticipating further shortfalls in property tax revenue and low revenues from interest. As the economy has improved, the following has taken place: • The district has earned more interest income. In August, when the budget was approved, it was projected that FWCS would see about $1.5 million generated from earned interest. Now it appears the interest will bring $2.5 million into the General Fund. • The state has given the green light for us to collect the local property tax shortfalls owed to us from 2004 and 2005. That will net about $2.7 million that the district could not count on when the budget was approved last year. • Health insurance premiums are now growing at a slower rate than in 2003, when the district began increasing co-payments and made other changes to its self-funded program.
In 2003, FWCS was facing some very difficult financial challenges. Interest rates were plummeting, insurance rates were rising, there were property tax shortfalls and only small increases in state funding revenues. In addition, property tax revenue was unreliable because statewide reassessment was underway. Anticipating the future impact of these challenges, the district slashed $11 million annually from its budget. Those cuts have saved FWCS $26 million since they were implemented in the Fall of 2003. Had the cuts not been made, the district would have been at a deficit of $5 million at the end of 2005. Instead, at that time FWCS had a cash balance of $21 million – about 11 percent of its budget. The district's aim is for a 5 percent cash balance, which is $10 million. (To give a perspective, the district's biweekly payroll for its nearly 5,000 employees is $6.6 million.) The estimated cost of the 1 percent salary increase is about $1.8 million annually. We are not saying that we are out of the woods and will continue to monitor our spending to ensure we have the flexibility to address any unexpected economic downturns in the future, said Dr. Robinson. Our employees have given up a lot to help support the district through some very tough times the last few years and now we are happy to be in a position to be able to give back to them. Board members will be asked to approve the retroactive increase during their regularly scheduled meeting at 7 p.m. April 24 in the Board Room of the Grile Administrative Center.
With nearly 30,000 students, Fort Wayne Community Schools is one of the largest school districts in Indiana. FWCS proudly allows families to choose any of its 50 schools through its successful school-choice program creating diversity in each school, including some with more than 75 languages spoken. FWCS offers seven magnet schools focusing on areas such as science and math, communication, fine arts or Montessori at the elementary and middle school level. In high school, students can choose from the prestigious International Baccalaureate program, Project Lead the Way or New Tech Academy as well as other rigorous academic and specialty training programs.