South Harrison school budget proposed at $36M-plus
Kaitlyn Clay, Staff Writer, [email protected]
The South Harrison Community School Corp. had the public hearing for the 2021 budget at its meeting, on Sept. 1. This meeting was also used to present the 2021-23 Capital Projects Plan, as well as the 2021-25 Bus Replacement Plan.
The budget is composed of three main categories: Education, Operations and Debt Services. Anything to do with the students — technology devices, instructional salaries, materials and athletics — is what would fall under the Education portion of the budget. The Operations budget is for district employees’ salaries, facility management, maintenance and other things of that nature. This particular budget will have a 0.448% tax rate as well.
Finally, the Debt Services budget is used for things like lease payments for the corporation.
Ultimately, the board is advertising its proposed budget for the 2021 year as $36,081,214. The Education budget will be about $23 million of that amount, and the Operations budget will take a little more than $9 million.
“We do not plan, and cannot for legal reasons, transfer more than 15% from the Education budget to Operations,” Carolyn Wallace, director of business operations for the school corporation, said. “It’s the 85/15 rule, meaning 85% of our money must remain in the Education funds. Currently, we are right below 10%. So, we are in great shape there.”
In regard to the Capital Projects Plan, the corporation plans to use funds in that for facility upgrades for the year. Corydon Central High School’s parking lot will receive a complete reconstruction using funds from this plan. The board has allocated $450,000 to go toward that renovation, which Dr. Mark Eastridge, school corporation superintendent, said he hopes can take place within the school year. This fund is also used for any roofing restoration, flooring replacements and other emergency cases of that nature.
The Bus Replacement Plan for 2021-25 was also discussed at the public hearing. In regard to future planning, South Harrison Community School Corp. plans to hang on to ownership of some buses that need replaced and have them in reserve in case they are needed for routes later on. Normally, the corporation would auction these buses, but this could help new drivers better afford their bus for a route rather than purchasing a new one.
Later in the meeting, Eastridge spoke highly of Gov. Eric Holcomb and the State Board of Education for unanimously approving a plan that allows the state to use data from the last student count in February to determine whether schools should receive full funding for their students, regardless of whether those students are receiving instruction virtually or in the classroom this semester. This new plan means school budgets won’t be penalized for students learning online this fall, as long as the students were not enrolled in a full-time virtual education program on the last enrollment count day.
“I would like to personally thank Gov. Holcomb for modifying the definition of virtual students this year,” Eastridge said. “This will allow all our virtual students to be funded like an in-person student until the legislation can be changed in the 2021 General Assembly session. This helps school corporations so much.”
This was also the first meeting of the school year in which Student Council representatives from the high schools were able to virtually present to the board. Both Corydon Central and South Central representatives recorded videos of themselves discussing the current year and how well they feel the students have adapted to wearing masks and following the guidelines sent from the state.
At its next meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, Oct. 6, at 7 p.m., the board will vote to adopt the Education, Operations and Debt Service budgets, the Capital Projects Plan and the Bus Replacement Plan.