FWCS budget shrinks for third straight year - September 27, 2011

Record Number: 7940
Displayed from: Sep 27, 2011 , until: Oct 31, 2011

The Fort Wayne Community Schools Board of School Trustees reviewed the 2012 budget today, which shows the district spending less for the third consecutive year, reducing the tax bill for an average homeowner in the district by $9. The $265 million plan is nearly $9 million less than the 2011 budget with nearly half the savings coming from changes in health care coverage for all employees. Starting Jan. 1, employees will have the option to choose a higher premium option, a lower premium/higher deductible option or a high deductible plan with a health savings account. The changes are expected to save the district about $4 million in the first year. Spending was also reduced for capital projects, transportation and programs supported by the Racial Balance Fund. Cuts were necessary in those areas because of a $6 million loss in property taxes due to the circuit breaker, which limits the amount property owners can pay in taxes. The district eliminated conflict mediators at each of the high schools and reduced the amount to be spent on facility needs, among other cuts, to absorb the loss in revenue. "With the reductions we have made in recent years, our long-term budget projections show that we shouldn't have to make additional cuts in 2012, but we must still budget cautiously," Chief Financial Officer Kathy Friend said. "Our goal is to direct as many of our resources as possible to the classroom, but we must also be mindful of the condition of our buildings, the need to replace buses and other services that support our students each day." FWCS is again among the highest in the state in terms of funneling dollars into the classroom. During the 2009-10 school year, FWCS spent 71 percent of its budget in the classroom, compared to the state average of nearly 59 percent. As the district's budget decreases, homeowners will see a decrease in the amount of property taxes they pay. The owner of a $100,000, for instance, will pay an estimated $286 in property taxes to Fort Wayne Community Schools before credits. Last year, that same homeowner paid about $295. A public hearing on the proposal will be held at 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 10, in the Grile Administrative Center, 1200 S. Clinton St. Board members will vote on the plan at the Oct. 24 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.