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SACS budget shrinks slightly

Hearing set for $68.3 million plan

– Taxpayers aren’t likely to notice much of a difference in this year’s advertised budget for Southwest Allen County Schools, the district’s business manger said Thursday.

SACS officials approved a preliminary budget this month that is a near-mirror image to the previous year, Business Manger Jim Coplen said.

The total advertised budget for the 2013-14 school year is about $68.3 million, which is about $172,000 less than the previous school year.

The district estimated $40,653,300 for the 2013-14 general fund – the largest fund. Last school year, the board approved a general fund budget estimate of $40,553,555.

“For the most part, our budget this year is in line with what we saw last year,” Coplen said.

The board will have a public hearing at 7 p.m. Oct. 1 and plans to adopt the budget at its Oct. 15 meeting.

Like other districts in the county, Southwest Allen will be keeping a close eye on enrollment, Coplen said, hoping that numbers continue to stay stable.

The district has seen a gradual increase in enrollment in the past several school years, with the exception of a drop in the number of students two years ago, he said.

“We’ve trended up slightly over the past five years or so,” Coplen said. “We’ve seen an increase of a little less than 1 percent a year.”

During the 2010-11 school year, the district reported an enrollment of 6,993 but showed a decline of 111 students during the 2011-12 school year.

Last school year, the district’s enrollment was 6,944, Coplen said.

Coplen said the district expects to gain a few students this year.

“At this point it’s looking like we’re up maybe 10 students. Somewhere between 10 and 20 students,” he said.

Today, all Hoosier schools will participate in the state’s Average Daily Membership, or ADM.

The ADM count is a single-day head count used by the state to determine how much money each district will receive based on the state’s funding formula.

New projects

The school board’s recent discussions have primarily focused on future building projects and how repairs and projects at individual schools will affect the district’s debt services fund, according to Coplen.

At last month’s board meeting, board members voted to move forward on five project bundles, which include improvements and restoration projects at several schools, he said.

“Some of it is roof repairs and carpet replacements, but we’re also looking at updates to our security system,” Coplen said.

The improvements also include a $1.7 million plan to replace the current football field turf, renovate entrance areas, replace track surfaces at Homestead High School and repair track surfaces at Summit and Woodside middle schools.

The current football turf will be used for a band practice field.

The security improvements, which include replacing the current camera/TV security systems in the district’s buildings, is estimated to cost $1.4 million.