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The Scoop

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"We challenge Dr. Robinson and her staff to propose bold changes to reduce expenses across the board in order to meet the challenge of maintaining quality instruction with shrinking resources," GiaQuinta said.

Verbatim: FWCS board requests budget reduction plan in 30 days

Statement issued Tuesday:

The Fort Wayne Community Schools Board of School Trustees has requested that the FWCS administration establish a comprehensive plan within 30 days to address the significantly reduction in funding from the State of Indiana. The plan will be presented at a special meeting of the School Board.

"The Board has reviewed the current and future funding situation and it is extremely serious," Board President Mark GiaQuinta said. "We must address the reductions that went into effect last month as well as the State's decision to "reset" the amounts available for public education in the future. Planning for long term reductions is essential to allow us to continue providing quality instruction for our students. We challenge Dr. Robinson and her staff to propose bold changes to reduce expenses across the board in order to meet the challenge of maintaining quality instruction with shrinking resources."

The state announced $300 million in cuts in education for 2010 in December. This equals a $9.1 million cut to FWCS. The education cuts are likely to remain in 2011. FWCS already anticipated cutting $6 million from its General Fund budget prior to the state's announcement. Combined, FWCS must reduce a total of $15 million from the General Fund for 2010. Further reductions are anticipated for 2011. The General Fund pays for salaries, benefits and other classroom expenses.

In addition, the Circuit Breaker and lower assessed property values are reducing property tax revenue to schools. FWCS will see a reduction in its Capital Projects, Transportation, Bus Replacement and Racial Balance funds by $2.5 million in 2010 and $4.1 million in 2011.

"We have told the administration that we are receptive to bold ideas for changes in how we operate, including looking at staffing, building maintenance and the configuration of the district," Mr. GiaQuinta said. "The only exception is full-day kindergarten because we view that as a necessity to increase and maintain improvements in academic achievement."

The state has emphasized that the funding changes are a complete reset to funding K-12 education in Indiana, which will have long-term ramifications to the district's budget.

"We must remain balanced, keeping in mind our three board goals as we develop our plan," Mr. GiaQuinta said. "We are a state leader in the percentage of money spent in the classroom, and we need to retain this emphasis. Fiscal responsibility is crucial, but academic excellence remains our number one goal."

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