07-22-03: State funding cut may send
Celina school back to voters
|By JANIE SOUTHARD
The Daily Standard
Celina City Schools likely will go back to the polls in response to
$2.6 million in state-projected cuts during the next two years.
But it won't be in November, according to District Treasurer Mike
"It's only been about two weeks since we've seen the state's
numbers, and those are changing almost daily. There's isn't time to prepare for this
November," Marbaugh said at Monday's meeting of the board of education.
District Superintendent Fred Wiswell told board members the district
must be cautious and monitor spending in the coming months in order to get through this
school year. District administration will begin another study, similar to last year's
system overhaul, to determine where reductions may be made.
"We're still in shock at the state budget cuts. We were
blind-sided by the state's cuts as were all school districts. What we're losing is
equivalent to what one of the levies (passed last May) will generate in one year,"
said Wiswell of the two levies passed by voters last spring. Both levies were replacements
and neither will bring in new money for the district.
The big hurt in the new state budget for Celina schools is the
elimination of the three-year averaging of student count.
Marbaugh explained that in the past the state used an average of the
past three years to develop a student enrollment number on which to base state funding.
"Since we are a declining enrollment district, the three-year
averaging actually put us a little ahead. However, the state will now use only the current
October numbers, which certainly hurts us," Marbaugh said.
He added that state funding last year covered 54 percent of the Celina
school budget, and this school year the funding percentage will slip down into the
Locally, St. Henry, Minster, New Bremen, St. Marys and Marion Local
school boards all have proposed new or increased renewal levies due to state budget cuts.
In response to board member Matt Gilmore's question as to when a levy
may come, Wiswell said it would be "irresponsible at this time to comment on when and
if a return to the polls will be necessary."
"Mike's (Marbaugh) numbers are as accurate as they can be, but the
state figures are changing almost daily," Wiswell continued.
Marbaugh's five-year financial forecast for the district projects a
$1.234 million deficit by fiscal year 2005.
Athletic Director Dan Otten notified board members of vandalism during
the past weekend at the track and field facilities. Person or persons unknown destroyed
the pole vault pit cover and cut up a soccer net. Otten notified the police department,
which is investigating the incident.
Board members approved Otten's request for an assistant golf coach, an
item that was tabled from the June meeting.
Board President Cindy Piper had requested information confirming that
female golfers would "not be left out or be second-class citizens" in the golf
Otten assured the board golf coaching will be fair and equal to all
teams including the girls. He noted 10 girls are signed up for the golf program.
"These girls are young so we can expect to field a team for several years,"
The position will be posted in house as will a middle math position,
vacated by Karen Hayes who will move to high school geometry this year.
Amy Kaiser, former high school math teacher, has accepted the position
of K-4 guidance counselor. Kaiser recently completed counseling certification.
Renovations to Headstart program's new facilities in the field house
will be completed by the beginning of school. District Business Manager Mike McKirnan
noted the renovations are covered by a federal grant.
"The space is large enough, although it's not ADA accessible.
However, we have a another classroom available should we need it for ADA
(accommodations)," McKirnan said.
McKirnan recently received a loss control survey from Indiana Insurance
Company suggesting a number of recommendations addressing "conditions that may
increase risk of loss."
Several of those recommendations have resulted from an absence of
documentation rather than inattention by the district, he said.
Recommendations focus on "hot work" areas such as welding,
cutting, soldering or use of a torch in maintenance and vocational shop operations. The
school's maintenance staff or any contractor must be issued a permit. The company
suggested one person (in the district) be designated as the permit issuing authority.
Bleachers were another area recommended for attention. McKirnan said
"a lot of work has already been done" and all recommendations will be addressed
by the beginning of the fall sports season.
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