Business Manager Mike Fowler gave a report to the board in regards to the much-debated topic of where the money goes within the Clay Community School Corporation. The results were about sharing. The northern portion of the county, typically considered property north of Interstate 70, has more resources to support their buildings due to the relationship with the southern portion of the county. The southern portion of the county is typically considered property south of Interstate 70 and has more resources to support their educational programs because of the relationship with the north. Both sides support each other.
"I honestly went into this approach with no preconceived bias," Fowler said. "I just went where the facts lead me and it is what it is."
Fowler looked at the property taxes by township and analyzed the expenditures for the south. He looked at the state basic grant, which is where the overwhelming majority of money for teacher salaries and educational programs comes from. The third component of his analysis involved the state special education funding, which included the revenues and expenditures from the southern portion.
He also studied the information presented by CCSC Board Member Forrest Buell at the April meeting. Fowler contacted the auditors in Clay County and Parke County to receive the most up to date figures for the 2008 Pay 2009 total assessed value, tax rate and dollars generated. The tax rate was obtained from the 2009 1782 notice, which doesn't include any circuit breaker, homestead or other credits that a property owner may be entitled to. It is only for school taxes.
The Clay City townships include Washington, Sugar Ridge, Perry and Harrison townships. The northern townships include Van Buren, Posey, Jackson, Dick Johnson, Cass, Brazil and Jackson (Parke County) townships.
"For 2009, the (Clay City townships) will pay in $2,258,865 (in school property taxes). To the extent that they over paid by $3.5 million or $6 million, they would be overpaying by an amount that is significantly higher than the amount they put in," Fowler said.
The northern townships paid $6,114,813, which gave the grand total of $8,373,678 in school property taxes.
"We spent a little over $42 million last year, so only 20 percent of the total expenditures comes from property taxes," he said. "The other 80 percent comes from the state, federal or some other source that is not a tax that is levied on property."
Fowler then explained how the $2,258,865 from the property tax revenue from the Clay City townships was spent. The results were that $1,839,469 of the $2,258,865 was spent in Clay City.
"For buildings, transportation, bus replacement and debt, the southern portion is contributing, $419,397 more in 2008 then they are receiving," he said. "That covers the 20 percent that is property taxes."
Of the other 80 percent, the vast majority is made up of the general fund and the state funding formula. The money CCSC receives from the state is based heavily on three areas, the number of children in the corporation, the complexity index (which is the number of free and reduced lunch children) and special education enrollment. Fowler went through the entire calculation and changed the complexity index from the corporation average of .4190 to Clay City's lower .3897.
"The funding that we would receive from the state would drop by $179, 487," he said. "We would have to cut $179,487 dollars in educational programs. This would be teachers, instructional assistants and classroom expenditures if we had clay City's complexity index."
Fowler then calculated the 2008-09 special education funding for Clay City schools. A total of $263,344 in revenue is received from the state for Clay City Schools. However, Clay City spends $404,041 on special education.
In 2008, the southern portion of the county contributed $419,397 to the northern portion for the Buildings/Transportation/Debt. In 2009 the northern end will contribute $319,184 to the southern end for educational programs. Both sides support programs for the other.
"In CPF (Capital Projects Fund), Clay City received $859,068 worth of value for the $696,527 in property taxes paid," Fowler said.
The analysis did not include the additional costs of a new board, superintendent, central office, transportation, etc that would need to be created in Clay City.
"The top teacher pay in CCS is $56,564 (2008-09)," he said. "In a worst-case scenario, the teachers in the south, if it were to split, could take a $7,000 pay cut to survive."
Fowler indicated that an exact amount could not be determined due to the complexities of the basic grant.
State funding is based on a "share the wealth" approach, which provides an equal opportunity to obtain a quality education throughout the state.
"Share the wealth works very well for us at CCSC, because we receive more funding than we put in," Fowler said. "There is significant unknown educational risk in dividing into two corporations, it appears that by remaining combined both sides of the county receive benefits from the other side of the county."