Crothersville schools expecting more cuts to general fund

CROTHERSVILLE

Once again, Crothersville Community School Corp. expects a decrease in its general fund budget.

Between the 2015 and 2016 budgets, the drop was nearly $1.4 million. According to 2017 projections, it may go down another $370,000.

The general fund, which pays for employees’ salaries and benefits, day-to-day operations and maintenance, for this year is $3,610,812. Next year, it’s projected to be $3,240,812. General fund revenue comes from state sales tax, while other funds receive property tax revenue.

Superintendent Terry Goodin said it comes down to a change in the state funding formula and how school corporations are funded.

While it affects all school districts, it can be particularly challenging for ones the size of Crothersville, which has nearly 490 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

“The state is continuing to cut,” Goodin said. “The general fund, that’s where you pay all of your employees, and that’s where you pay the electric bills and everything like that, so as that number gets smaller, it makes a direct impact on what you can do.”

Crothersville has not replaced some employees who have retired in recent years, but it has found ways to maintain and even add programming for students.

“We’ve been able to hold the line on programming because of our partnerships, and we’ve lost personnel,” Goodin said. “As a matter of fact, we’ve added programming, so we’ve been very creative in trying to figure out ways to overcome it.”

By utilizing partnerships, Crothersville can offer additional programs and save money by not having to hire more staff.

For several years, Crothersville and Austin high schools have had a “true partnership.” Crothersville students have the option to go to Austin for classes that aren’t offered at their school, and some Austin students take classes at Crothersville that aren’t available at their school.

Crothersville students also take classes through C4 — Columbus Area Career Connection and through Ivy Tech Community College at Mid-America Science Park at Scottsburg. Some of those classes allow them to earn college credit or certifications.

This also is the fifth year for the Austin Crothersville Early College Initiative, where students from both high schools can earn an associate degree in high school. In the past four years, 32 Crothersville students have received degrees.

Goodin said the budget process has changed dramatically in the last 10 years. The state dictates what corporations can and cannot spend, how much is spent and where it’s spent, and there’s not much leeway, he said.

“We just try to make sure that we’re getting the programs funded for our children, which is our No. 1 priority,” Goodin said. “We’re trying to do the best we can for our kids with what we’ve got, and we’ve done pretty well. As a matter of fact, other schools have been cutting programs, we’ve been adding, even when we’ve had to cut personnel, so it has worked out.”

Despite the expected decrease in the general fund budget, Crothersville’s overall budget doesn’t change much. This year, it’s operating on a budget of $5,561,896. Next year, it’s estimated to be at $5,669,602.

The capital projects fund is projected at $764,162 for 2017. It’s currently at $680,467.

That fund includes payment for any physical work that takes place at the school building and for technology purchases.

Goodin said 40 percent of that fund goes toward technology, which the corporation always has made a priority.

“Because that’s the future, and we want to prepare kids for the future,” he said. “If you’re putting them with a textbook and a pencil, that’s not necessarily reflecting what they are going to be seeing when they go to college or even when they get a job, so we want to put them in front of the things that they are going to be seeing and get them familiar with that.”

By the numbers

Fund;2017 proposed;2016 adopted

General;$3,240,812;$3,610,812

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

Pension debt;$218,513;$210,644

Capital projects;$764,162;$680,467

Transportation;$432,930;$340,000

Bus replacement;$351,185;$57,973

Total;$5,669,602;$5,561,896

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