Chesterton Tribune



Duneland School Board hears of pending budget challenges

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There were no comments during the public hearing portion of the 2021 budget process during Monday night’s Duneland School Board meeting as members heard more details of the numbers that will challenge the district beginning July 2021.

Assistant Superintendent of Business and CFO Lynn Kwilasz presented specifics on the various funds of the budget, including background on how revenue is obtained for each of the funds. She said that current and future decisions made by the Indiana State Legislature, a decline in DSC enrollment since 2019, and the impact of the pandemic on economic conditions will all negatively impact revenue that supplies school coffers.

The Operations Fund, which provides funding for capital improvement projects as well as non-instructional employees such as custodial, maintenance, utilities, and central administration, said Kwilasz. “It appears that K-12 funding will remain as budgeted by the state for the period from January to June 2021. We are grateful for that. However, we are keenly aware that the effects of the new funding will occur starting in 2021.”

This new funding is a result of the Indiana General Assembly which adjusts the funding formula and the amount of funding that it will provide for students, and since 2021 is a budget making session, Kwilasz explained, that formula will be based upon current economic conditions. Those conditions are not good.

“An 8-10 percent funding reduction is anticipated simply based upon the lost state revenue, the state’s use of its Rainy Day funds, and the 15 percent budget cuts that state agencies were forced to take for the remainder of the current biennium through June 30, 2021,” she explained. She noted that a clearer picture will be available in late March or early April 2021 during the legislative session.

Additional expenses for enhanced cleaning and sanitation of school buildings during the pandemic have had a further negative impact and Kwilasz said a transfer from the education fund to the operations fund is allowed by state law. “For 2021, we are proposing a 14.5 percent transfer from the education fund to the operations fund. It should be noted that the Board may, at anytime throughout a budget year, in a public meeting and by resolution, reduce the transfer amount,” she stated, adding that “serious review and potential reductions in this fund will be needed during both 2021-2022.” The education fund pays for instruction and direct instructional support, or, in other words, teacher salaries.

Funds that rely on assessed valuation will likely be impacted by both the pandemic economy as well as the circuit breaker that impacts the amount of tax funds received by the DSC, though the former will not affect this year’s budgeting process for 2021 and will instead hit in 2022, she said.

The budget will be adopted on November 2, 2020 and detailed information on the various funds and projects can now be found on the DSC website. Board President Brandon Kroft thanked Kwilasz for “laying the groundwork that will determine the course of difficult decisions next year.”

Virus Learning Model Report

In other business, Superintendent Chip Pettit commented that Monday’s move to Level 3 of the re-entry plan resulted in a number of students opting for a change to their learning model. “Currently, approximately 75 percent of our just over 5,800 students are attending in-person with 25 percent attending remotely. 631 students moved from remote to in-person and 325 students moved from in-person to a remote learning model. In this latest change, approximately 15 percent of students made a change to their learning model. I believe this speaks to the uncertainty we have come to experience on all pandemic related topics,” he said.


Posted 10/6/2020





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