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Lanesville takes on budget crisis

The Lanesville Community School board chose last week to appropriate money out of its rainy day fund instead of laying off teachers to cover increased costs in the school district.
In recent months, school officials have said the school is headed for bankruptcy if its financial status doesn’t improve.
The five-member board voted unanimously to appropriate $300,000 out of the rainy day fund to help cover increased expenses, like health insurance rates.
Before the appropriation, the fund contained $306,000, which is made up of surplus property tax monies the school has saved from previous years.
The rainy day fund at Lanesville can only be used for emergencies, an unforeseen loss of funding or for unforeseen cost increases. Lanesville has experienced all three.
Lanesville’s general budget has been slowly declining over the last two years. The school corporation has spent more than $250,000 in increased health insurance benefits since 2006 for its teaching, secretarial and janitorial staffs while its general budget has decreased more than $25,000 over that same period.
The school has lost 15 students since 2006. Next year, said Lanesville superintendent, Dr. Phil Partenheimer, the school will graduate 56 students while they only have 38 new kindergarten enrollments which will lower their enrollment by 18 more students.
With the state’s budget formula, lower enrollment means less funding for the school corporation.
Despite its budget problems, Lanesville was named an exemplary school corporation for its second consecutive year by the state, which is based on levels of improvement on ISTEP testing.
‘We don’t become an exemplary school because we were last year,’ Partenheimer said during last week’s meeting. ‘This means we’re getting the job done in the classroom.’
Partenheimer said if the school corporation reduces its staff, they would only be reducing the education for its remediation students, an option he did not want to consider.
‘We want to keep the school at the level it is now,’ Partenheimer said yesterday.
Another budget issue is Lanesville’s new buildings. The school corporation was given approval by the Indiana Property Tax Control Board to increase its tax rate to help pay for expenses of running the new facilities which includes things like electricity.
However, the extra funding never made its way to the school district when the state appropriated Lanesville’s budget. Partenheimer said the tax levy was also only raised for one year.
Partenheimer and members of the school board met with the tax control board last Thursday to discuss the issue, which has been ongoing since 2004.
‘Basically, what I’m asking for is money that has already been approved,’ Partenheimer said, and added the tax board voted 4-4 on Lanesville’s request.
Their request will now be sent to the commissioner of education in the Dept. of Local and Government Finance office. The commissioner then will make a decision on Lanesville’s request.
Partenheimer said he is worried about depleting the rainy day fund and that the school will need to come up with more funds to cover the increased costs of health insurance and the budget shortfall with the new facilities.
In other matters, on April 17, the school board:
‘ Approved the reposting of the position of volleyball head coach for Lanesville High School.
‘ Approved all other athletic coaches for fall, winter and spring sports.
‘ Approved Cindy Avery as a part-time second shift custodian.
‘ Accepted the resignation of Mary Conrad, assistant technology director.
‘ Approved the summer driver’s education program and set the cost of enrollment at $300.