ST. JOHN | September is budget season for school districts throughout Indiana.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the Lake Central School Board learned from Director of Business Services Rob James how the school corporation’s proposed 2014 budget of more than $91 million will be earmarked for nine separate funds.
On Friday and again on Sept. 13, that proposed budget will be advertised in local newspapers including The Times as required by state law. The School Board approved that publication at Tuesday’s meeting.
“We always advertise high because we don’t want to leave money on the table,” James said, explaining that final budget certified by the state is usually lower than what is advertised.
Lake Central School Corp.’s 2014 budget estimates total $91,025,550. The largest portion of that budget, $55.7 million, is designated for the general fund from which salaries and benefits are paid.
“This represents 18 months of expenditure. The six months now plus the next 12 months,” James said.
About 98 percent of this general fund for June through December 2013 is based on the student count — called Average Daily Membership — that will be taken on Sept. 13, he said.
Currently enrollment figures indicate the Lake Central schools have between 150 and 200 fewer students than in previous years, James said. That enrollment drop could mean about $900,000 less in school funding.
A second ADM count will be taken in the spring and will affect the next portion of the budget, he said.
James said 2008 was the last time property taxes paid for the general fund. The Indiana General Assembly changed the state funding formula and in December 2009 the state cut all school budgets by 4 percent.
“For a while the (Lake Central) school corporation wasn’t doing well financially,” he said. “Spending was dramatically out of control.”
The Lake Central School Corp. has cut $4.7 million from its budget and is “now operating in the positive. That was our goal,” James said.
For the first time in several years, the school district’s rainy day fund would see money put into it rather than taken out, James said. He has earmarked $800,000 for that fund.
On Sept. 16 a public hearing on this budget will be conducted during the school board meeting that starts at 7:30 p.m. in the LGI room at Lake Central High School.
The Lake Central School Board will consider adopting the advertised budget at its Oct. 7 meeting.