PIERCETON – The Whitko School Board of Trustees and a committee of concerned citizens is asking registered voters in the Whitko school district to “Vote Yes for Whitko” in the upcoming general election, November 2.
Voting yes on the Whitko referendum proposal is essentially approving a general fund “safety net.” The money can only be used for general fund expenditures and is only imposed to offset a possible loss in state revenue.
If the question does not pass with a majority of votes and if the state continues to cut funding, the school district will have to make additional cuts in personnel and programs. Because of state shortfalls the district has already cut $1.26 million – or 26 positions – for the upcoming 2010-2011 school year. Further shortages without support could mean the South Whitley Elementary School would close and those students would be bussed to Pierceton. The art, music, agriculture and other non-core subjects may not be offered. And extra cirricular activities simply may not exist as school sponsored programs.
The question on the ballot reads as follows: “For the next seven calendar years immediately following the holding of the referendum pursuant to Indiana Code 20-46-1-8(a)(1), shall the Whitko Community Schools impose a property tax rate that does not exceed 20 cents ($0.20) on each one hundred dollars ($100) of assessed valuation and that is in addition to the school corporations’s normal tuition support tax rate?”
The current, state-approved, balanced budget of $11,000,000 is lower than any budget since 2003. If the state cannot fund the budget, the district can raise some funds from property taxes, via the referendum, to make up the difference.
School districts have several funds and each fund is created for a specific purpose. Transfers of money between the funds is very limited.
The general fund is used to pay for teachers, administrative and support personnel’s salaries and benefits; 90.3 percent of the general fund is used for these salaries and benefits. It is also used to pay for a portion of utility costs and supplies.
The transportation operating fund is for the transportation staff, fuel and bus repair.
The bus replacement fund is for the purchase of busses.
Debt service: is payment on debts related to bonds and building projects. The district just finished paying off the middle school construction bond and is paying on the high school renovation project. Whitko schools only debts are the construction projects.
The capital projects fund is used for maintenance-related work on buildings and grounds, repairs to equipment, technology, furniture and the like. It may also be used to pay a limited portion of utility costs.
Funds raised through the referendum will only be used to shore up the general fund, in other words, to pay for salaries and benefits. At the maximum levy (20-cents per $100 assessed valuation or $823,000) only 12 percent of the general fund would be raised.
The state has indicated there may be cuts of $500,000. There may be cuts of $250,000; there may be no shortage.
For more information call or email Steve Clason, superintendent, 574.594.2658 or 260.327.3677, email@example.com; school board members: Terry Eberly, 723.4690, firstname.lastname@example.org, Deborah Collier, 574.594.2546, email@example.com; Cynthia Kreger, 574.594.2192, firstname.lastname@example.org; Roger Boggs, 327.3672, email@example.com; Jorell Tucker, 260.609.1818, firstname.lastname@example.org; committee members: Georgia Tenney, 574.594.2051, Larry or Janet Arnold, 723.4239, email@example.com; Tina Ray, 260.839.0239, firstname.lastname@example.org; or Kathy Wright, 574.594.2671, email@example.com