WARSAW — The Warsaw Community Schools board of trustees were educated on the upcoming changes to school finance at the monthly work session Tuesday, Nov. 13.
April Fitterling, WCS’s financial operations manager, explained the effects that recent Indiana law will have on the district’s purse strings. The law, known as House Enrolled Act 1009, was passed during the 2017 legislative session and will affect school corporations beginning in January.
According to the Indiana Department of Education, “the Indiana General Assembly passed legislation that impacts school corporation funds beginning Jan. 1, 2019. The bill eliminates the school General Fund and creates an Education Fund for expenditures related to student instruction and learning, and an Operations Fund to replace the Capital Projects Fund, the Transportation Fund, the Art Association Fund, the Historical Society Fund, the Playground Fund and the Bus Replacement Fund, which are repealed effective Jan. 1, 2019.”
According to a memorandum from IDOE, the new law “moves the purpose of such funds to the Operations or Educations fund. The Operations Fund will raise a property tax levy to provide funding for aforementioned levies.”
Fitterling told the board the school corporation’s finance department has been working feverishly to prepare for the changes.
Changes to WCS’s financial operations come as a result of both state and federal laws governing education.
Fitterling said the federal law is the Every Student Succeeds Act. This mandate is designed to show spending broken down building to building.
“For the past few years, our entire team has been focusing on this 1009,” Fitterling said. “School level financial data will enable education leaders and stakeholders at all levels to better understand spending patterns across the state and individual districts and use that knowledge for the benefit of their students.”
Fitterling told the board that the district’s finances will go from being divided into six funds — general, capital projects, transportation, bus replacement, debt service and referendum; to four funds — education, operations, debt service and referendum.
“This is our biggest change in 30 years,” Fitterling said. “This is huge.”
Fitterling said the financial department has been working to transition the school’s current budget to accommodate the upcoming changes. “The expenditures will be the same, they’re just going to look a little different,” she said. “Roughly 14.9 percent of expenditures in General Fund will now be in the Operations Fund,” she said. “So, roughly, an estimated $7.1 million will be transferred from Education to Operations. And, this is just an estimate.”