The public kept silent Monday on Fort Wayne Community Schools' proposed $309.5 million spending plan that could result in a 2% property tax rate increase.
Nobody in the socially distanced, downtown audience offered feedback during the school board's public hearing, nor did anyone submit comments or questions virtually during the meeting's livestream.
Presented Sept. 14, the proposed 2021 budget is 1% more than the current $305 million budget. The board is expected to approve the plan Oct. 12.
Monday's hearing was nestled among a string of unanimous votes for items including a property purchase near a southeast elementary school and upgrades to the temperature controls system at South Side High School.
Board member Steve Corona confirmed with Darren Hess, facilities director, that the South Side improvements marked a milestone: The $557,156 contract with Automated Logic is the first contract funded by the spring's successful Repair FWCS referendum.
Voters overwhelmingly supported the $130 million building improvement program.
It will lead to major renovations to Wayne High School and Blackhawk and Miami middle schools as well as additions to Levan Scott Academy and Franke Park Elementary School. About 30 other FWCS buildings also will benefit from various investments.
Meanwhile, a 2016 referendum continues to support projects including Monday's approval of spending $103,000 to buy 5212 and 5214 Gaywood Drive near Levan Scott Academy.
Each lot has a house that will be demolished, Hess said. The purchase will give FWCS the flexibility of eventually creating a parent pickup lane and additional parking at the school.
In other business, Superintendent Mark Daniel said he is pleased 98% of teacher positions are filled and the district is making progress on adding bus drivers. Three drivers have joined FWCS, and two more are in the pipeline.
Charles Cammack Jr., the chief operations officer, said more bus drivers are needed: “Only 55 to go.”