Knox school officials are preparing for the upcoming change in the school funding structure. Starting January 1, each school corporation’s General Fund will be replaced by an Education Fund, while the Capital Projects, Transportation, and Bus Replacement Funds will be combined into an Operations Fund.
The Knox School Board got the chance to learn more about the changes from consultant John Sayers, during Tuesday’s public hearing on the 2019 budget. “I think it’s going to take a year for you to get hands around how that really looks and how it feels,” he said. “It’s going to be a considerably new way of thinking.”
Next year’s proposed Education Fund budget is just over $9.1 million. That’s where teacher salaries will come out of. Sayers explained that money comes from the state. “The bad news for next year is your enrollment is down, which you probably are aware of, which will generate less income for that Education Fund,” he added.
Meanwhile, the proposed Operations Fund is more than $6.4 million, with money generated from local tax revenues. Sayers said that something new with the updated structure is the ability to transfer money between those funds. “The state gives you the authority to transfer funds from Education to Operations and Operations to Education by resolution of the board,” he explained. That will become a necessity, since some items that are currently funded with state money will actually end up in the Operations budget, rather than Education.
Sayers added that the proposed bus replacement plan allows for the purchase of up to four buses a year, but stressed that school officials can always choose to purchase fewer. The proposed 2019 budget would also give the school corporation permission to spend up to a million dollars out of its Rainy Day Fund, if necessary.
Superintendent Dr. William Reichhart added that Knox Community Schools is on track to remain well below its budgeted expenditures this year. He said that barring any unexpected expenses, the corporation will be able to save about $600,000 from the 2018 budget, raising the cash balance to its highest level since 2013. But he expects the budget to be tighter next year.
Other than the school officials, no other members of the public showed up Tuesday to offer input on Knox Community Schools’ 2019 budget. The school board scheduled its budget adoption meeting for Tuesday, October 23.