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People who live within the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. can expect to pay the school district about the same in property taxes in 2014 as they did this year, despite an advertised tax rate that would seem at first glance to indicate taxpayers are in for an increase.
The school corporation is advertising its 2014 tax rate at $1.25 per $100 of a home’s assessed value. If that worst-case scenario came about, then a person who owns a $100,000 home would pay the district about $1,250.
But Vaughn Sylva, assistant superintendent of financial services, said he advertises rates artificially high every year because of a state law that allows districts to reduce advertised budgets but not to increase them.
He predicted residents would continue paying between 89 and 90 cents per $100 of their homes’ assessed values. A person who owns a $100,000 home in that case would pay between $890 and $900, as they do today.
The school board will begin discussing what to do with projected general fund revenues of about $69 million during a public meeting Monday, the first step in a process that should end with adoption Sept. 23, Sylva said.
Some of that money would go for teachers’ raises, police resource officers and the hiring of a new elementary assistant principal to split time between two schools.
Police in schools
District administrators said taxpayers would get their money’s worth, especially with the hiring of two student resource officers, who would be stationed at Columbus East and Columbus North high schools but would be just a phone call away for schools across the district.
Indiana legislation signed into law in May dedicates as much as $50,000 to each district across the state to put police officers in schools. A shooting in Newtown, Conn., that killed 20 elementary school students and six adults prompted some legislators to think of ways to improve school safety.
The Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. would receive $50,000 because it has more than 1,000 students. A dollar-for-dollar match is required to secure the funds. Beyond that, the school system has proposed to budget $100,000, for a total of $150,000, Sylva said.
A timeline prepared by the school system calls for the new resource officers to start work in January, assuming the school board and Columbus City Council approve.
The officers would come from the ranks of veteran officers at the Columbus Police Department, Police Chief Jason Maddix said. He said two new officers would be hired to ensure no officers are removed from street patrols.
In need of assistant
Another budget item being proposed is to hire an assistant principal for $75,000, Superintendent John Quick said. Discussions are ongoing about how to use the assistant, but that person might split time between Parkside and Taylorsville elementary schools, Quick said.
Those schools are among the largest in the district without an assistant principal, Quick said. Clifty Creek, Schmitt and Southside elementary schools, Central and Northside middle schools and Columbus East and Columbus North high schools already have assistant principals.
Quick said the main purpose of the split-time assistant would be to help with employees’ job performance evaluations that will be conducted this school year.
New evaluation system starts
Though all district employees are guaranteed a 1 percent raise this school year, raises for teachers and administrators for the 2014-15 school year will depend on evaluations this year.
Teachers and administrators deemed as highly effective or effective will receive raises. Teachers deemed as ineffective or needing improvement will not receive raises.
Performance pay is part of the general fund budget, which makes up the lion’s share of the district’s budget overall and handles routine expenses through the school year such as teacher pay.
Sylva said his projection for $69.06 million in general fund revenue and $69.02 million in general fund expenses is a liberal guess for 2014, based on what the district knows about how things will play out months from now.
The budget presentation Monday will be an introduction only, so school board members can begin asking questions and modifying it and the public can provide input, Sylva said. He said a more formal public hearing would follow on Sept. 9, and approval would come Sept. 23.
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