The proposed Duneland Schools budget for 2013 is ready for public view after
meeting with approval from the School Board at Monday’s special meeting.
The budget will be advertised in tomorrow’s Chesterton Tribune as a
legal notice. A public hearing will take place at a special board meeting on
Monday, Sept. 10 at the School Administration Center.
At last night’s meeting, Assistant Superintendent David Pruis said the
budgets shown to the board on Aug. 13 remained the same overall but the
school corporation received word last week from the Department of Local
Government Finance that estimates have shown a slight increase on how much
could be raised in the levy.
The school will advertise its 2013 General Fund at $34,380,000. For
comparison, the 2012 budget had been advertised at $36,500,000 and later had
been certified at $35,682,954 by the DLGF. The fund is the largest the
school uses to fund its daily operations, teacher salaries and insurance.
A total of all budgets (General, Capital Projects, Bus Replacement,
Transportation, Debt Service, Pension Debt Services) comes to $63,525,458,
more than $1.2 million over what was advertised for 2012.
To give a breakdown: the schools’ debt service budget is expected to be $7.9
million (including an additional $57,000 that had been reimbursed from
textbook adoptions and the school lunch program); the pension debt service
bond fund of $1.6 million which will be paid off in full by 2014 ($923,000
less than this year); the Capital Projects fund of $10.4 million (about
$200,000 less than this year); the Transportation fund of $3.8 million (up
more than $50,000 this year due to a 1.3 percent growth factor on a capped
fund); and the Bus Replacement Fund of approximately $650,000 (about $40,000
less than this year).
The Bus fund, which is a capped fund, does have a 2.8 percent growth
quotient and is expected to see amounts above $700,000 in the next two
years. With the funds set for this year, the schools will purchase six
replacement buses and one special purpose bus.
Director of School Transportation Jim Bonfield advised that the growing fuel
costs are likely to overreach what has been appropriated in the
“Everybody is charging us fuel surcharges,” he said. Pruis added he has
received “a boatload” of invoices on fuel which he will have to work out
with the new director of support services.
Now that the state requires that schools operate on a 12-year bus
replacement plan rather than a 10-year plan, issues of rusting was another
concern raised by Bonfield.
Pruis said the schools will also see an increase its utility costs, the
first time since 2007.
After giving Pruis permission to draft a resolution, the board agreed
unanimously to alter how the school will neutralize its pension debt fund
while at the same time giving more flexibility in its Capital Projects fund.
Approximately $1.6 million will be taken from Capital Projects to neutralize
pension debt, but now the state will allow school districts to use funds
from the school bus replacement fund. Starting next year, only 25 percent of
the 1.6 million will be neutralized, followed by 50 percent in 2014, until
it reaches 100 percent in 2016.
Pruis said with the funds available the corporation will be able to complete
a few of its renovation projects a bit earlier than planned, even by a few
years. The project needing the most attention is roof repair at Liberty
schools. Further implementation of technology programs is another goal.
to be used
Line items in the General Fund “will have to be flatlined,” Pruis said, but
the school referendum should give enough funding, $4.8 million, to maintain
However, Pruis said the referendum money will not be available until next
summer, meaning the school corporation will have to tighten its belt all
through the 2012-2013 school year.
“We will do everything that we can with the resources we have to maintain
our current staffing levels and programs in our schools,” Pruis said.
“There’s no way around it.”
The Citizen Review Committee for the referendum funds – which is appointed
by the superintendent – met with Pruis and Schools Superintendent Dirk Baer
last week and recommended that in order to keep the schools running as they
are the corporation will need to utilize the full 22 cents per $100 of
assessed value approved by that referendum for 2013.
The committee consists of Christopher Craig of Liberty Twp., Stephen Turner
of Jackson Twp., and David Perry of Chesterton. It meets with school
administrators once or twice during the budgeting cycle, Baer said.
Pruis read comments from the committee to the school board. “We’re proud of
what we have and we will do everything we can to keep it,” Pruis said. “This
is all about our students. It’s protecting their education.”
The committee urged school officials to use funds responsibly and said that
using the full 22 cents “would be the most responsible thing to do.”
Board Vice-President Mike Trout agreed.
“(The referendum) clearly wasn’t a mandate but the community by and large
allowed us to do this. We shall do our due diligence. I’m sure we will be
responsible and we should be responsible,” he said.
Pruis said if not for the referendum, the board on Monday would have been
looking to cut $4 million out of the General Fund.
“That would be devastating,” he said.
Baer had estimated that 26 positions would have been axed had the referendum
The $4.8 million is based on the preliminary assessed valuation figures
received from the county assessor’s office last month. Originally it was
thought the AV for Duneland might slip from $2.5 billion to $2.1 billion,
but the latest figures indicate the decline is not that steep. The AV is now
expected to be closer to $2.4 billion.
In other scheduling matters, the board under a request from Baer will switch
its November meeting date to Tuesday, Nov. 13. The next regular board
meeting will be held on Oct. 1., which is also when the board plans to adopt
the 2013 budget.