Reductions result in smaller budget for 2010 - September 15, 2009

Record Number: 5338
Displayed from: Sep 15, 2009 , until: Oct 15, 2009

The Fort Wayne Community Schools Board of School Trustees presented the district's proposed 2010 budget to the public Monday, Sept. 14. The $284 million plan is nearly $3 million less than the 2009 budget. The bulk of the reductions came out of the General Fund, with 49 classroom teaching positions eliminated earlier this year. Central office cuts, including the elimination of administrative interns and a consultant for new finance software, replacing fewer maintenance vehicles and uniforms and reducing the amount spent on professional development, among other reductions, also contributed to the smaller budget. Over the next year, FWCS officials will take an even closer look at the budget to determine where additional reductions can be made. Each department will be expected to explore potential areas to cut. While the district did receive an increase in state funding for 2010, the amount is not sufficient to cover growing costs. The state is also moving toward full implementation of the Circuit Breaker system for property taxes in 2010, which will result in a loss of nearly $2.6 million in property tax revenue for FWCS. Under the Circuit Breaker, homeowners can pay no more than 1 percent of their property's assessed value in property taxes. For rental properties, the cap is 2 percent, and for businesses, the cap is 3 percent. Most homeowners living within FWCS' boundaries will not benefit from the new system, however. The average home in the district is worth $99,000, but the Circuit Breaker doesn't kick in until $145,000. FWCS anticipates it will maintain a high percentage of spending directly affecting student achievement. It is estimated at least 70 percent of the budget will be spent in the classroom, significantly higher than the state's historical average of about 60 percent. The district was helped in funneling money to the classroom with the federal stimulus funds, which paid for 69 teaching positions in the form of instructional coaches and student interventionists. With that funding, the number of teachers on staff for 2009-2010 actually exceeds the number on staff a year ago even though the district eliminated 49 classroom positions. The budget includes only one major building project replacing a portion of the roof at Northrop High School, which is a $1 million project. A public hearing on the proposal will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 28, in the Grile Administrative Center, 1200 S. Clinton St. Board members will vote on the plan at the Oct. 12 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.