The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, September 15, 2021 1:00 am

2 districts lay out plan for budgets

Effects on property taxes in FWCS, NACS unclear

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Fort Wayne Community Schools' proposed $328 million spending plan for 2022 could result in a 1% property tax increase, officials said.

That potential effect on taxpayers is a “best estimate” and could fluctuate based on increases in assessed value of properties in the district, FWCS spokeswoman Krista Stockman said Tuesday.

Northwest Allen County Schools is withholding similar estimates for its proposed $89.3 million budget. Spokeswoman Lizette Downey said Tuesday the district won't know the effect on taxpayers until the assessed valuation is certified.

Both districts addressed their upcoming budgets at meetings Monday. NACS held a public hearing while Kathy Friend, FWCS chief financial officer, gave her annual presentation to the school board.

This year, Friend's slides included two smiley-face icons. The first recognized an upswing in per-pupil revenue from the state for 2021-22 and 2022-23.

“This is the first time, as you can see, in years, ... that we've been up (more than) 2%,” Friend told the FWCS board. “It's great. The 4.8% and 3.4% are really going to help us do some good things for our staff this year.”

The funding increase last exceeded 2% in 2016-17, when it went up 2.8%.

Fort Wayne Virtual Academy students will be funded at only 85% of in-person students. Friend said that equals $1,064 less per student for a total loss of $300,000.

The per-pupil funding is multiplied by FWCS' average daily attendance, which was up 86 students as of Monday, Friend said. The official fall count date is Friday.

The district's total enrollment was 28,954, an increase of 298 students, or 1%, compared to last academic year, Friend said. She explained the bigger number includes preschool students, who are excluded from the average daily attendance used for state funding.

Friend awarded the second happy face to increases in special education funding, which has four categories. Three received raises.

“Five percent the first year and 10% the second year,” Friend said, noting this reduces the funding gap to $3 million from $6.2 million. “That is remarkable.”

FWCS' proposed budget of $327,525,311 is up $18.2 million, or 6%, from the $309.3 million previous budget.

NACS' proposed budget of $89,277,804 is up 7% from almost $83.8 million in this academic year. The district enrolls about 8,000 students.

NACS is expected to adopt the 2022 budget Sept. 27 – the date FWCS will hold its public hearing. FWCS' budget adoption is set for Oct. 25.

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