School budget cuts $1.7 million

Sean C. Morgan

School District 55’s proposed 2011-12 budget cuts about $1.7 million in general fund spending from its 2010-11 budget.

The general fund’s ending fund balance will be reduced from about $700,000 to $150,000 in the fiscal year 2011-12, which begins on July 1.

School Board member Chanz Keeney said during a special School Board meeting Monday night that the district is using one-time funding sources to cover costs this year, and the district will need to look for efficiencies wherever it can to save money in the coming year.

Prior to the board meeting, Supt. Larry Horton presented the proposed 2011-12 budget to the district’s Budget Committee.

“The fiscal picture for the upcoming school year can be described as a perfect storm,” he said in his budget message. The state funding forecast is lower than it was four years ago, federal stimulus programs are ending, Public Employees Retirement System rates are increasing by more than $400,000 in the general fund and $500,000 in all funds and district enrollment continues to trend downward.

The cuts were about $200,000 higher than previously anticipated based on adjustments to the state allocations this month, Horton said.

The district has taken steps to prepare for the fiscal storm, he said. Among those were the merging of Crawfordsville and Holley elementary schools, saving approximately $170,000 per year.

The budget cuts four elementary teaching positions, including one in the Holley-Crawfordsville consolidation, Horton said. It reduces high school teaching staff by 1.5 full-time equivalents, and the high school is moving from a five-period scheduled to a seven-period schedule to help compensate.

The budget reduces athletics by about $20,000 and 70 hours per week among custodial and maintenance staff.

The budget will spend $200,000 from its early retirement fund and $150,000 from its long-term maintenance funds, both long-term reserve funds. Pool operations have been scaled back, and the set-aside for future PERS debt service has been reduced by $130,000.

The budget was built with no furlough days, although the district will likely negotiate with its unions for furlough days in 2011-12 to help bolster the dwindling ending fund balance, the district’s contingency fund and cash carryover from year to year. Each furlough day saves approximately $60,000.

Overall, the district’s budget is reduced 7 percent, from $31.1 million to $28.9 million, Horton said. The general fund is decreasing by 8.5 percent, from $19.9 million to $18.2 million.

The Budget Committee will meet again on May 23 to consider approving a budget recommendation, which then goes to the School Board for adoption in June.

For more information about the budget or to view the budget document, call 367-7126 or visit the Central Office, 1920 Long St.

A budget summary is available on the Web at