Chesterton Tribune



Schools to pay off debts in 2018 budget

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In less than a year, the Duneland School Corporation will successfully pay off its pension debt and the debt from the general obligation bond that allowed the Corporation to build on to Liberty Elementary.

The debt service will be paid off in December while the pension debt will be paid off next December, according to Duneland Chief Financial Officer Lynn Kwilasz. What remains though is the common school loan of $580,900 the Schools acquired this year to fund its one-to-one school initiative that puts tablet devices in the hands of students to access digital course materials. That will be paid off in about five years.

“We are marching our way through our debt. All our debt will be paid off at the end of 2022,” Kwilasz told the Duneland School Board at its meeting Monday to review the 2018 proposed budget for the schools.

The overall advertised total figure for the budget will be $69,958,347, which is $2.6 million higher than what was advertised for 2017.

The amount for Debt Service in the 2018 advertised budget is $7.8 million and School Pension Debt is $742,000.

School funding formula

The general fund, which is the largest fund and is determined by the State’s school funding formula, is at $39.1 million in the 2018 budget. It’s been steadily climbing for the past few years since the State took over the general fund in 2009 and made cuts to operating costs.

Kwilasz said the State’s per pupil basic funding support for public schools will increase to $5,273 in fiscal year 2018, compared to $5,088 per student for FY 2017. State legislators increased funding to schools in their two-year budget passed this year in the Statehouse.

Duneland’s enrollment, according to preliminary figures, is about 5,900 students, Kwilasz said. That’s about 50 more than the count for last year. An increase in enrollment means the schools will receive more per pupil funding through the Average Daily Membership (ADM) count in the granting formula.

The State’s day to collect ADM counts is the second Friday after Labor Day, which means this year it will fall on Sept. 15.

Kwilasz said legislative changes made this year will return the state to the former method of ADM counts. The fall count will be the only used for basic support and grant funding, rather than the spring count. There will be a spring count on Feb. 1 next year, but it will be used for information purposes only, she said.

“Anybody who has been here for a while knows that’s how it used to be,” Kwilasz said.

CPF/Bus Replacement

Meanwhile, Kwilasz reviewed the Schools’ Capital Projects Fund and Bus Replacement Fund which are determined by the local tax levy.

The Capital Projects Fund, which pays for buildings and grounds maintenance, technology, software, equipment and staff involved with technology, will be advertised at $9.5 million, but Kwilasz said she expects to receive a little under $9 million when the budget is approved.

“We always overstate the estimated figures to protect the rate so we can get the most dollars from our levy,” she said.

The 2017 budget was advertised at $9.1 million and is expected to grow over the next three years. The largest expenditure in the 2018 CPF budget is Building Acquisition, Construction and Improvement at $2.9 million.

Duneland’s net assessed value for 2018 increased by 1.1 percent this year which affects the tax levy and the tax caps, impacted by all the taxing units within the school district.

Because the AV increased, the CPF fund, as well as all levied funds, will all receive less negative tax cap impact. The tax cap impact, which lowers the total amount of funding, is estimated at $300,000 for 2018 compared to $450,000 in 2017. The 2018 estimated tax cap impact for the Bus Replacement Fund is $30,000. Last year’s was $34,000.

The property tax cap credit for Duneland overall, estimated by the State, is $711,230 for 2018 and was $1.6 million in 2017’s estimated budget.

Duneland plans to replace eight buses next year, with an estimated $826,130 in its Bus Replacement Fund. Kwilasz said the Transportation Department determines how many new buses it needs and asked the public to realize that not all buses last up to 12 years due to hazards like snow and salt corrosion in the winter.

The School Corporation maintains 89 buses and has $982,000 currently in its cash balance for bus replacement.

Also advertised in the 2018 proposed budget is the Transportation Operations Fund at $4.3 million and the School Referendum Fund at $7.6 million. Kwilasz said that the Referendum Fund is not affected by tax cap losses.

Voters within the Duneland School District in 2012 approved a tax rate of 22 cents per $100 of assessed value to support the schools in times of funding cuts from the state. The referendum rate is in effect until 2019.

Public hearing Sept. 19

The School Board will hold a public hearing for the levied funds -- Referendum, Capital Projects, Transportation Operation and Bus Replacement -- on Tuesday, Sept. 19, at 6 p.m., at the Duneland Administration Center.

The legal notice for the hearing will be published in the Chesterton Tribune on Friday, Sept. 8, Kwilasz said.

The maximum estimated levy to be advertised is $28.3 million.



Posted 8/22/2017





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