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Saturday, Nov. 28, 2015

Committee reviews budget process

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Dan Schroeder
Members of the new Cost Cutting Committee went back to school Monday.

Representatives of the Clay Community Classroom Teachers Association (CCCTA), Clay Community School Corporation administrative personnel, volunteer non-certified personnel, representatives from the school board and community members received information on the budget.

"At this point, we have no preconceived notions of cuts," Supt. Dan Schroeder said. "We have a cash balance. We are one of the lucky corporations that have not had to cut any positions, not only administrative or certified but non-certified."

Schroeder explained that a budget is an 18-month picture of where the corporation stands fiscally. It is completed for the last half of the current school year and the next calendar year, and a statement is then put together concerning the revenue and expenses.

For example, the administration worked on the 2010 budget during the summer of 2009, they had an estimate from the State of Indiana on the amount of money they would receive.

"The money varies from year to year and is based on enrollment, special education, vocational programs and academic honors, just to name a few," Schroeder said. "We were told in December that we would be cut 1.2 million dollars and we already had our budget together."

According to Schroeder, the corporation had a structural surplus and it was used to make of the deficit for the 2010 school year.

"A structural surplus is taking in more revenue than expenditures going out," he said. "Cash balance is how much cash you have on hand unspoken for at a given date."

Those in attendance were given information about the primary income sources as well as primary expenditures in the general fund, debt service fund, severance bond fund, capital projects fund, transportation fund and bus replacement fund. A copy of the 2010 Property Tax Report for Clay County was also available. The report included the levy comparison, tax rates, credit rates and net tax rates for homesteads by district and the circuit breaker cap credits.

A spreadsheet, which showed Clay County tax rates from 2006-10, showed a breakdown of the tax rate per the fund.

"We haven't raised taxes to increase the general fund," Schroeder said. "If you will notice, we did not have property taxes in 2010 funding the general fund. The state now pays for our general fund."

Schroeder referred to the tax rate for the debt service fund and how they have continued to go down even with the elementary building renovation project.

"It did not increase our debt service rate or our overall tax rate," he said. "In 2006, it was 45 cents, and in 2010 it was 38 cents."

Last year, meetings took place at each school. Teachers, parents and faculty brainstormed ideas they could take part in at the building level to save money that does not include cutting personnel. A handout was given to the cost cutting committee that had the ideas expressed by each school. The committee expressed interest in the ideas that were thought of by principals and those in the meetings.

Schroeder assigned homework to everyone in attendance. He asked them to go out into the community and discuss what should be done about potential cuts and which fund they should come out of.

"It's the new cuts that we need to be fearful of," Schroeder said. "I think we really need to look hard at what everyone has put together. However, in my opinion, we should spend down some of the cash balance because I don't think the public will understand keeping that cash balance so high and letting people go."

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Basically, I'm not looking for any word on funding cuts for education until after Election Day.

For anyone who cares to see what the State Board of Education recommended that school corporations look at, I'm posting a link to the Citizens' Checklist. http://www.doe.in.gov/finance/docs/ctize...

I don't disagree with what the article or Dr. Schroeder says that is quoted within it; however, I would state some of it differently. Dr. Schroeder said that the state now pays our General Fund. I'd say that, in doing so, the state now controls the General Fund instead of our school board. Either way, we cannot spend what we do not receive.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Wed, Oct 6, 2010, at 2:08 AM

I looked at the Citizens' Checklist. If that is the future for teachers, I don't know why anyone will want to enter the profession. Our governor and state superintendent are trying to run our schools like a business. Students are not products!!!

-- Posted by southviewrebel on Wed, Oct 6, 2010, at 8:12 PM

Long time, no see....southviewrebel! Hope all is well with you and that you are holding down the fort!! I agree with you about the profession of teaching. There are some entities that simply cannot be operated like a business, schools being one.

-- Posted by Bigpappy on Wed, Oct 6, 2010, at 9:33 PM

That is the problems with a lot of school systems today, they are not run like businesses. There is no accountability for waste. Just more money spent for the same product.

-- Posted by patriotgames on Thu, Oct 7, 2010, at 6:53 AM

Education is a product but students cannot be treated like product.

-- Posted by seventyx7 on Thu, Oct 7, 2010, at 6:56 AM

They haven't had to raise taxes, from what I understand, because the percent of the tax draw that our school corporation takes from the county is much higher than in most other areas. I don't want our kids to go to school in a dump, but I'd like to be able to drive them to school on a road that isn't more pot holes than pavement. Our schools are much nicer than most around, which is a point of pride, but sometimes I think that money is being spent just for the sake of spending it. If extra money is coming in, there should be a way to bank it and either lower the amount that tax payers spend or use it to ensure that jobs aren't lost in the school or the county.

-- Posted by snow on Thu, Oct 7, 2010, at 3:15 PM

Education is, indeed, a product; actually a product line. Students are the consumers of that product line, each with their own needs and goals. The teacher is the deliverer of that product who must tailor the product so that the individual student gets maximum benefit from it. Building-level administrators and parents monitor that relationship and should be making "best-fit" decisions on it, while the administrators attempt to fill the needs of the classroom by making sure it is supplied with the tools and materials of education.

Schools can be run as a business, indeed, they are and always have been; however, the profit is not measured in monetary units or even diplomas and degrees. It is measured in literacy and in success or failures of the student later in life, but you have to give the individual some of the credit or blame in that equation as there are people who received the best education money can buy and failed along with people who received less education who did better.

"Snow" is correct that the amount of money spent on education is, by far, the largest portion of the county tax expenditures; however, it is also the largest part of the state's budget accounting for somewhere in the neighborhood of 47 to 52% of General Fund expenditures and about 12% of the national budget, too. I look at expenditures in education as an investment in the future and, while I disagree with some of the expenditures on the grounds of cost-effectiveness and lack or reduced returns, I believe investing in the education of future generations is the only way the community, state, and nation is going to be able to produce citizens who can solve the problems of finding enough money to fill all of the potholes or very many of our other problems. I don't look for it to happen in my lifetime.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Sun, Oct 10, 2010, at 1:10 PM

I am serving on this committee. Dr. Schroeder stated that he hoped to accomplish the task in four meetings, but I do not see how that is possible even with sixty people. I've seen the suggestions that came out of the building-level meetings. There are a lot of them that need research.

There are many that appear to be beneficial such as utilities and resources conservation, ideas that may reduce the costs of supplies, and a review of the need for non-educational personnel and the expenses associated with that, but there is also quite a few that would be detrimental to education such as the elimination of vocational classes or would actually raise costs such as consolidating all bus routes in the City of Brazil into one trip that goes to one elementary school, then the Northview / North Clay campus. That might save fuel in one bus, but only by buying and maintaining another bus while hiring another driver plus providing personnel benefits and administration costs for the additional employee.

There are also a few that are the "rob Peter or Paul, but take nothing from me" type, split several ways, north vs. south, lower grades vs. higher grades, and even between socio-economic classes. There are some that are contrary to Indiana law, such as charging a user's fee for riding the school bus to and from school.

Then, the viable options also breakdown several ways by the cost of implementation. There are some that cost nothing, such as turning out the lights in an unoccupied classroom. Others have a small investment cost such as putting sensors on lights to control their use automatically, then there are ones that are going to come only with large investments that are going to take years to implement, unless we are forced as have some corporations, such as reconfiguring buildings to lower operating costs.

I find it interesting that the Indiana law that required the formation of school corporations was passed during the Great Depression and only now in the middle of recession, accompanied by loss of revenue in the state for support of education, has public interest and concern over how those corporations are spending money elevated to the point where any attempt is being made, not only locally, to find out if they can operate more effectively.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Sun, Oct 10, 2010, at 1:43 PM

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