By Liz Shepherd
WARSAW — Warsaw Community Schools’ Board of Trustees reviewed the school district’s 2022 budget and heard an update on bus stops during a work session on Tuesday, Sept. 14.
Chief Financial Officer April Fitterling reviewed the budget with board members. The budget totals $87,229,325, with $48,307,000 in the education fund; $23,250,000 in the operations fund, with a proposed tax rate of $0.5994; $11,088,325 in the debt service fund, with a proposed tax rate of $0.4970; $2,884,000 in the referendum fund, with a proposed tax rate of $0.1282; and $1.7 million in the rainy day fund.
Fitterling said 94% of WCS’s education budget relates to salaries and benefits. One of administration’s primary goals has been working to create $40,000 starting salaries for teachers.
“Several years ago, we were not where we wanted to be for teachers or employees,” said Board President Heather Reichenbach. “The board and administration has goals with the (Warsaw Community Education Association) to get us to where we felt better about it. I just want to commend everybody to keep focused and steady. It’s feeling a lot better to look at this and see these shared priorities.”
For the 2022 budget, Fitterling estimated WCS at 6,770 students, with a base funding of $6,457 per student. Funding per student is up about $300 from 2021.
A public budget hearing will take place during the school board’s regular meeting on Monday, Sept. 20. The budget will be adopted during a meeting on Oct. 25.
WCS Transportation Director Mark Fick provided an update on how bus routes and stops have worked since the beginning of the 2021-22 school year. He commended all of the school district’s bus drivers for being flexible amidst the changes.
“State roads, county roads, anything over 45 miles per hour, we can’t go street-side on for pickups,” said Fick. “We have to go through and drivers give me a list of stops. I go through and verify them or change them into a safe way. The drivers care about what they do and how important this is to the community. If the drivers see something, they’ll say something and we’ll change it. We have more miles with less buses to pick up more kids than we’ve had since I started here.”
Board Vice-President Randy Polston was also presented the Sagamore of the Wabash award at the beginning of the school board meeting. Polston’s children and grandchildren attended the meeting while his wife, Rachael, attended virtually. A press release on the presentation can be read here.
The board’s next regular meeting is at 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 20, at the school district’s central office.