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The Journal Gazette

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Tuesday, September 10, 2019 1:00 am

FWCS seeks $305 million 2020 budget

Public hearing slated for Sept. 23

MATTHEW LEBLANC | The Journal Gazette

The public can weigh in Sept. 23 on a proposed 2020 Fort Wayne Community Schools budget worth $305 million.

The spending plan, which was unveiled at a board meeting Monday, is nearly $900,000 less than the district's 2019 budget and includes an expected 4% bump in revenue from property taxes. 

How that might affect homeowners, though, is unclear because FWCS officials have not seen property tax assessment numbers. Those might be available in November, said Kathy Friend, the school district's chief financial officer. 

The district credits state legislation that reduced for one year employer contributions to the Indiana Public Retirement System's Teacher Retirement Fund. The average seniority of teachers also has decreased, saving the district money, according to a news release. 

“With our total revenue increase from the state at less than 2%, we built a conservative budget that focuses on keeping dollars in the classroom,” Friend said in a statement. 

Projections show about $201 million to be spent on education, a category that includes expenditures directly related to instruction and teachers, teacher aides, media services and instructional technology. About $75 million will be spent on operations – building projects, day-to-day operations, busing and bus replacement – according to the budget. 

More than $134 million is expected to be spent on wages. Building projects will make up about $8.6 million in spending, and building and equipment repair is expected to cost $3.8 million. 

“Overall, this budget is pretty flat compared to 2019 – actually, a little bit lower,” Friend said during a presentation to board members. 

Transportation – busing, drivers, mechanics, insurance, fuel – will cost FWCS $15.7 million in 2020, and the district expects to spend $3.7 million to replace 29 buses. 

Following the public hearing, the board will likely vote on the spending plan in October. 

In other business, the board approved a $289,000 contract with a Texas company to provide live video instruction at South Side High School and Lane and Lakeside middle schools. 

The pilot will include Spanish classes at the middle schools and algebra instruction at South Side. Teachers with Proximity Learning Inc. will appear on screens but will be able to interact with students and answer questions.

Superintendent Wendy Robinson said it's been tough to find qualified teachers for math and language classes, and hiring Proximity is one solution. 

“The teacher shortage is alive and well in some subjects,” she said.

mleblanc@jg.net