UNION TOWNSHIP | Union Township Schools will either have to raise money or cut programs, Superintendent John Hunter said Tuesday during a presentation at Wheeler High School.
About 200 residents, teachers and students attended the event, which was billed as an informational session to educate the public about decreases in school funding and the impact of a proposed referendum to raise taxes.
“My No. 1 goal is to maintain our programs for our kids,” Hunter said. “That's why we're here tonight."
The schools are seeking to raise $1 million over a seven-year period through a maximum property tax increase of 22 cents on each $100 of assessed valuation.
If approved by voters, a home assessed at $100,000 would have an increase of $65.17 a year, or $5.43 per month. A $200,000 home would be $194.53, or $16.21 per month. A $300,000 home would be $323.88, or $26.99 per month.
Hunter said the money will go toward the schools' general fund, which covers day-to-day expenses. Some 86.8 percent of the fund is used to pay salaries and benefits. Special education, vocational education, utilities and supplies comprise the balance.
In 2009, the state assumed funding for each school corporation’s general fund through an increase in sales tax in lieu of property tax. Sales tax revenue declined as a result of the recession, which in turn reduced funding for schools.
In 2010 and 2011, the state reduced support to Union Township Schools by $423,747 and $475,431, respectively.
Union Township responded by making cuts to its general fund expenditures. Among other reductions, administrators, teachers and noncertified staff have not had an increase in salary and wages since 2009. Additionally, all administrators and noncertified staff took five unpaid days in 2010, Hunter said.
Though the measures helped, other areas continue to experience inflationary costs, including health insurance, special education, utilities and maintenance.
Hunter said the schools had been able to maintain programs up to this point because of the cash balance and rainy day fund. However, these reserves have decreased and revenues are now less than expenditures, he said.
After the presentation, participants were invited to submit questions, which will be compiled and answered on the district's website, www.union.k12.in.us.
Hunter said depending on feedback, he hopes to present a resolution to proceed with the referendum to the School Board at its December meeting.
Tuesday's presentation also will be posted on the website.