2009 budget maintains focus on academics - August 12, 2008

Record Number: 4254
Displayed from: Aug 12, 2008 , until: Sep 12, 2008

The Fort Wayne Community Schools Board of School Trustees publicly presented the district's proposed 2009 budget for the first time Monday, Aug. 11. The $286 million plan maintains the district's focus on educating all students to high standards while facing budget reductions in key areas. This is the first year the state is taking over funding the entire General Fund, the largest of the district funds, which pays for salaries, benefits and other classroom expenses. Because of the funding change, homeowners will see fewer of their property tax dollars going to FWCS. FWCS will spend more than 70 percent of its budget on areas that directly affect student achievement, an increase over last year's 69 percent. While the majority of academic expenses remain intact, FWCS will see a shortfall in the amount of money raised for the Racial Balance Fund, which pays for classroom expenses associated with the magnet schools, resource teachers, conflict mediators and other support services provided directly to students. The Racial Balance Fund will lose $1 million or 14 percent of its 2008 budget because of changes made as part of property tax reform at the state level. The changes will also limit the amount collected in the Capital Projects Fund. In 2009, the district will have $14.5 million to spend on building improvements, down from $19.5 million in 2008. To meet the reduction, FWCS is planning to cut back on land purchases, energy savings contracts and equipment. The district also will not be able to complete any major infrastructure improvements, such as the heating, ventilating, air conditioning work done at Lakeside Middle School this year. Having less money available for such projects will put the district further behind in maintaining its aging buildings. A public hearing on the proposed spending plan will be held at 6 p.m. Aug. 25 in the Grile Administrative Center, 1200 S. Clinton St. Board members will vote on the plan at the Sept. 8 board meeting.

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.