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Board OKs ’13 budget for EACS, down 2%

$84 million plan will employ cash reserves

– The East Allen County Schools board approved a 2013 budget Tuesday that is 2 percent less than this year’s budget and one that uses cash reserves to supplement a $3.5 million general fund deficit.

All six members present at the board meeting voted in favor of the budget, totaling $84 million. Member Stephen Terry was absent from the meeting.

The shortage is in the district’s general fund, which is supported by the state through per-student tuition payments. The district decreased some of its costs in its general fund from last year, the result of staff cuts from EACS’ redesign plan that closed and consolidated schools, but it is still spending more than the amount of revenue coming in.

Superintendent Karyle Green reported the district’s enrollment is 205 students below last year’s enrollment, for a total of about 9,300 students.

“We’re very pleased this year,” she said. “As a declining district, we anticipated losing more than 300 students, but we’re down 205 this year.”

The enrollment numbers are not drastic enough to effect great change in EACS’ general fund budget, but if the district’s enrollment drops by more than 500 students, state funding would be reduced by about $4 million per year.

The budget decrease comes mainly from the capital projects fund, which dropped from $13 million in 2012 to about $9 million in 2013.

Building maintenance and construction costs were cut as the district closed some schools and has taxpayer approval for bond issues for projects in the Woodlan and Heritage attendance areas.

The board also approved Green to move forward with conversations with a firm to improve district communication with the public and help the board be more responsive to the community. The vote was from discussion during a closed session.

Board president Janice Witte said the move is in response to feedback from a survey report from Daryl Yost, a former EACS superintendent, about the perception of the district. She said the district has worked hard to get information out to the public, “but it’s just not happening.” She said others from outside the district may be able to provide additional insight to improve communication.