Jim Evans, director of finance for the Wawasee Community School Corp., said this is the first step in the formal budget process though work has already been done in preparation. The budget is divided into the general fund, debt service fund, capital projects fund, transportation operating fund and bus replacement fund.
The school board approved advertising the 2016 budget in local newspapers. A public hearing will be held at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 25, in the Warrior Room at Wawasee High School. Then the budget will be considered for adoption during the regular monthly meeting of the school board at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8, also in the Warrior Room.
An estimate of the budget is $50,983,821, though it should be noted budgets are always advertised at a higher amount than what is granted by the Department of Local Government Finance, a state agency which determines the final budget.
George Gilbert, school board member, asked Evans if Wawasee is dealing with any bus transportation cutbacks some school districts have encountered. Evans said those typically involve circuit breaker issues and caps placed on property tax revenues. Wawasee has not had to deal with this problem, but it was noted by Dr. Tom Edington, Wawasee superintendent, the state has not been giving the money required each year to replace buses as needed.
In other business, the board voted to donate $1,000 toward the overall cost of $4,000 for the Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation to conduct a study of water levels in the general area of Wawasee Middle School due to the excessive amount of rain this summer. Edington noted the school corporation was asked to donate because of a water retention pond at WMS that may have an impact on the water level of Lake Wawasee, though some board members questioned how much of an impact it could have.
Mike Wilson, board member, said he has read it takes millions of gallons of water just to change the lake water level by 1 inch and wondered how much impact the retention pond actually has. Rob Fisher, board member, asked how the study could help or be used by the school corporation. Edington said it is possible a few things could be learned, such as why the middle school has had problems through the years with high moisture levels.
Edington also informed the board the state has now entered the picture of bargaining with teachers for salaries and no formal negotiations can be held until August. A contract negotiated with teachers five years ago will expire this year. He added test scores will now in some way determine how much a teacher is paid, though specific details have yet to be worked out.
In other business, Rebecca Linnemeier, board president, asked if the high school football stadium would be ready for the first home game in August. Edington said he was told it would be ready, but “the keys have not been handed over to us yet.” It was originally supposed to be finished by October 2014, then that was changed to May 2015.