Budget lean for school district

CROTHERSVILLE

A decrease of more than $1.4 million between the 2015 budget and next year’s proposed numbers has Croth- ersville Community School Corp. leaders a little worried.

One of the biggest reasons for the drop is that the state funding formula was changed by the legislature this year, which affects all school districts, but especially ones the size of Crothersville, Superintendent Terry Goodin said Monday.

Crothersville’s current enrollment is at 493, down from 551 in 2012-13.

Goodin said Tuesday that, under the new formula, Crothersville will receive about $5,600 per pupil this school year. That’s down from $6,300 this past year, he said.

He told the school board during a public hearing for the 2016 budget that he and other school officials plan to continue to look for ways to provide as much programming as possible.

“We’re not going to jeopardize our educational integrity as we move forward with our programming,” he said.

The corporation went from a 2015 budget of $7,304,415 to a proposed budget of $5,874,677 for 2016.

The biggest difference in Crothersville’s budget from 2015 to 2016 is the general fund, which pays for employees’ salaries and benefits, day-to-day operations and maintenance. It was approved for $5,086,130 in 2015, while $3,610,812 is proposed for 2016. Again, the general fund is based on what the state allows.

If approved by the state during budget hearings this fall, the pension debt service would increase from $214,720 this year to $215,300 proposed for next year.

The bus replacement fund was the only other area that would see an increase, going from $300,000 this year to $345,000 next year. Goodin said the corporation has a 10-year bus replacement schedule. As buses reach a certain age, they are replaced with new ones.

Money is placed in the plan so when it comes time to replace a bus, the funds will be there, Goodin said.

“We’ve had a cash balance in the bus replacement because we’ve not always used that money,” he said.

Fund requests for debt service ($662,000), capital projects ($701,565) and transportation ($340,000) would remain the same.

Debt service includes payment for building construction projects. The only one Crothersville has is from the school building remodeling project 10 years ago.

Capital projects includes payment for any physical work that takes place at the school building and for technology purchases. Transportation funds are used to pay bus drivers and to repair and maintain buses. Goodin said both funds are capped by the state each year.

Goodin talked about some solutions officials have come up with to stay within the district’s means.

At the end of the 2014-15 school year, four junior-senior high school employees accepted buyouts for early retirements, which was an overall cost savings because that eliminated those salaries and benefits.

None of those positions was replaced; however, a choir director is being hired.

Also, the teachers union is in the middle of insurance negotiations with the hope of saving some money, Goodin said.

School officials are continuing partnerships with area schools and colleges and looking into expanding those class and program offerings, he said. By utilizing partnerships, Crothersville can offer additional programs and save money by not having to hire more staff.

Some students will again take classes through C4 Columbus Area Career Connection, along with advanced classes at Austin High School and welding and advanced manufacturing classes through Ivy Tech Community College at Mid-America Science Park in Scottsburg.

Goodin said it’s a “true partnership” with Austin because students from there are taking classes at Crothersville that aren’t offered at their school, while some Crothersville students are taking classes at Austin that aren’t offered at their school.

“When our kids go there, they will be Crothersville kids,” Goodin said. “They will still play a Friday night basketball game at Crothersville. They will still walk across the stage in four years and get their Crothersville High School diploma or whatever year it is they graduate. Nothing is going to change there. We still get all of the money for those kids.”

With the Ivy Tech classes in Scottsburg, Goodin said that’s a great way for students to earn college credit.

“When they graduate from those programs, they will pass the national welding test, the national test for advanced manufacturing, and they’ll walk out the doors with certifications that other people don’t get until they go to college and graduate from the college program,” he said.

Goodin said the plans are to strengthen those programs and add more.

Also, for the past three years, Crothersville has been involved in the Austin Crothersville Early College Initiative, in which students from both schools can earn an associate degree in high school. Since that began, Crothersville has had 20 students earn an associate degree.

Having the degree results in a student not spending as much time in college, and it’s also a cost savings for them.

By the numbers

2016 proposed budget;current 2015 budget

General;$3,610,812;$5,086,130

Debt service;$662,000;$662,000

Pension debt;$215,300;$214,720

Capital projects;$701,565;$701,565

Transportation;$340,000;$340,000

Bus replacement;$345,000;$300,000

Total;$5,874,677;$7,304,415

If you go

What: Crothersville Community School Corp. Board of Trustees meeting

Where: Central administration office, 201 S. Preston St.

When: 6 p.m. Sept. 14

On the agenda: 2016 school budget will be up for approval.

Author photo
Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at zspicer@tribtown.com or 812-523-7080.