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MSD discusses 2019 financial goals

BY Kaitlin Gebby - kgebby@wabashplaindealer.com

The Metropolitan School District of Wabash County discussed the 2019 budget and financial goals for the school year during their board meeting on Tuesday.

Assistant Superintendent of Finance Chris Kuhn explained one major change that began at the new year was the transfer of funds in capital projects and the general fund. The Department of Local Government Finance and the Indiana Department of Education has set a new requirement for schools to remake capital projects funds as operations funds and change general funds to education funds.

The idea behind the change was to provide schools with more flexibility and knowledge on exactly what was spent on operations and in the classroom. The education fund will specifically pay for costs directly related to the classroom and learning, which the operations fund pays for transportation, salaries, and other administrative expenses.

In 2018, Kuhn said MSD of Wabash County spent $20.9 million. In 2019, Kuhn anticipated a necessary budget of $23.4 million with $13.1 million in appropriations, but said that prediction is high and he does not foresee needing additional appropriations. He said for 2019, 55 percent is expected to go to the education fund, 33 percent to operations, 8 percent toward debts and 4 percent for a rainy day fund.

In terms of net assessed value, MSD of Wabash County is at historic low at $714,000, 2 percent lower than last year’s net assessed value. However, Kuhn said the corporation has the lowest tax rates in the tri-county region.

By 2021, Kuhn said he’d like to maintain an education fund balance that is equal or better than two months of payroll, nearly $2 million with an average of $497,200 for 2018. He’d also like to increase pay, employee benefits and school programs, and increase the rainy day fund to $1,000,000. Finally, Kuhn said he’d like to pay off the school’s self-insurance deficit by 2021.

Board members Todd Dazey and Matt Driscoll were sworn in Tuesday night for their next two-year term. The board also elected its officers, making Todd Dazey board president, Kevin Bowman vice president, Todd Topliff secretary and legislative liaison, and Driscoll the representative for the Heartland Career Center.

The council also discussed the possibility of changing their meetings from the second and fourth Tuesday of the month to just the second Tuesday of the month. Board member Gary Fadil was for the idea, saying it would allow them to have working sessions to talk about specific issues rather than dragging out regular meetings on single agenda items.

Others said it may be a hindrance. Kuhn said it may make things complicated on his end, and that a single board meeting a month would mean each one is longer that the one to two-hour meetings held now.

Superintendent Mike Keaffaber suggested the board think about it until the next meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 22.