School Corp. seeks $5 million more for budget

Continued growth in student enrollment for Seymour Community School Corp. means a need for more money, school officials said.

The district is seeking around $5 million more overall in its proposed 2016 budget than it received for 2015. The majority of the increase would be used to pay for building improvements and construction and salaries and benefits for new employees, said Steve Nauman, corporation business manager.

Seymour’s proposed overall 2016 budget stands at $50.67 million. The current budget is $45.98 million.

School board trustees will review budget information at 7 p.m. today at the administration building during a special meeting.

There will be a public hearing Oct. 8, and the budget will be voted on Oct. 19.

“If student enrollment goes up like it has in the past two years, next year, we will need additional teachers and instructional assistants,” Nauman said. “At this point, it looks like we have gone up over 350 students in the past two years.”

The corporation is nearing a total enrollment of 4,600 students, he said.

In planning for next year, Nauman said he increased the general fund budget by about $2 million, going from $29 million this year to a proposed $31 million for 2016. The general fund does not receive local property taxes but instead is generated through state sales tax revenue based on enrollment.

“The biggest factor for a budget is students. When you grow, you have more money, and when they leave, you have less,” he said. “Indiana is truly a voucher state now. The money follows the student.”

Nauman said the budget proposal is inflated to help the schools get as much money from the state as possible.

The state will most likely approve a lesser amount, but it’s always best to request the maximum now because you can’t go back and ask for more money later, he said.

Also going up is the district’s proposed capital projects fund budget by about $1.2 million from $6.3 million this year to $7.5 million in 2016. Local property tax revenue is used to make up the CPF. That money is used to purchase technology and for maintenance of facilities and construction projects.

Currently, the district is planning additional interior renovation work next year, costing an estimated $1 million at Margaret R. Brown Elementary School and $1 million in athletics facility improvements at Seymour High School, including the addition of a turf football field.

The school also is budgeting $2 million in 2016 for the creation of a farm school.

Ongoing projects, such as the addition of soccer fields at the high school and a new media center at Cortland Elementary School, will not impact the 2016 budget, Nauman said.

“The school board is trying not to burden the taxpayers with increased taxes for these building projects,” Nauman said. “We issue bonds as other bonds are paid off.”

But Nauman said the actual tax rate will depend on the city’s assessed value. If Seymour’s assessed value increases, the tax rate will drop, he said.

“When the community grows, assessed value should go up,” he said.

He expects the impact of the schools’ proposed 2016 budget on taxpayers likely will end up being an increase of a penny or less per $100 of taxable property.

To replace three buses next year, the district is looking to increase its proposed bus replacement fund budget by $375,000.

Nauman said there will be enough money in the fund for replacing buses, and he doesn’t foresee any issues now or in the future.

That’s not always the case with the transportation fund, which pays for fuel and bus repair and maintenance costs, he said.

“Most schools struggle with the transportation fund due to the lack of state support and the controlled levy,” Nauman said.

The transportation fund, like the capital projects fund, relies on local property taxes for revenue; however, the state will only allow a school corporation to increase its tax levy by so much, he said.

“When we run out of transportation funds, the general fund picks up the tab, so we will probably be short at the end of the 2015 calendar year,” he said.

Another fund that is important to the school system is its rainy day fund, which is used for emergency expenses.

Currently, Seymour has $4.4 million in its rainy day fund with another $2.2 million kept in the general fund for a total of $6.6 million in savings.

Nauman said he plans to add another $700,000 at the end of the year in order to keep 25 percent of the general fund’s operating budget.

If you go

What: Special meeting of the Seymour Community School Corp. board of trustees

Where: Central administration office, 1638 S. Walnut St.

When: 7 p.m. today

On the agenda: 2016 school budget review, including local funds, the three-year capital projects plan and the 12-year bus replacement plan

By the numbers

2016 proposed budget;current 2015 budget

General;$30,927,248;$29,026,548.57

Debt service;$4,284,954;$4,175,111

School pension debt;$306,300;$316,856

Capital projects;$7,500,000;$6,287,090.01

Transportation;$2,000,000;$1,490,983

Bus replacement;$654,658;$280,000

Rainy day;$5,000,000;$4,400,000

Total;$50,673,160;$45,976,588.58

Author photo
January Rutherford is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. She can be reached at jrutherford@tribtown.com or 812-523-7069.