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HOPE — A person with a home worth about $100,000 in northern Bartholomew County would see a tax bill increase of about $50 under a 2013 school district budget driven by a new busing philosophy.
The Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corp. Board will consider approving the $9.77 million budget during a meeting at 7 p.m. today at the school system’s administrative office, 9423 N. State Road 9.
Jeff Cleland, the school system’s business manager, said he advertised the budget high because the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance will not allow the school system to lower it later. He said the amount probably would settle in at less than $8.89 million, which is in line with the 2012 amount.
The $50 tax increase reflects what Cleland expects to result from a tax rate of 1.6 percent, slightly more than the 1.45 percent tax rate residents pay now. Someone who owns a $100,000 home paid about $474 this year and would pay about $524 next year, assuming standard deductions and exemptions, Cleland said.
If you go
What: Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corp. board meeting
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: Flat Rock-Hawcreek School Corp. administrative office, 9423 N. State Road 9
Highlights: Approve preliminary 2013 spending plan; establish capital project plan; establish bus-replacement plan.
He said the bus replacement line item would be the biggest reason for the tax hike in a budget that does not anticipate staff raises.
The school district plans to spend $325,000 to buy four buses, transitioning from a system in which the school system traditionally contracted with private bus operators.
Cleland said the school system contracts with five drivers. The district would need to buy only four buses and hire four drivers to take their place, because the district is evaluating its routes and anticipates eliminating one.
Some or all of the current drivers might continue to drive under the new system.
Andy Hunnicutt, a school board member, said the plan to bring buses and bus drivers in-house would put the district more in control of the costs. He said the system now involves an annual bid process, which puts the school system at the mercy of the contracted drivers and their demands.
Consideration of how to eliminate a route is continuing through this year, Cleland said. He said that would involve consolidating routes and taking into account the Safe Routes to School program.
Safe Routes to School is a collaboration between the Flat Rock-Hawcreek school system and the Indiana Department of Transportation to plan the safest way for students and the rest of the community to bike and walk to schools.
The state will pay to install sidewalks or other paths to separate traffic flows as much as possible between self-propelled transportation such as bicycles and motorized traffic such as cars.
“Some of these kids’ school bus’s pickup are literally across the street,” Cleland said. “Maybe there’s a better way to do that.”
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