A new state law is requiring major changes in how school districts budget for 2019, but in Carmel Clay Schools the end result isn’t expected to be much different than it is now.
CCS Associate Supt. for Business Affairs Roger McMichael presented the 2019 budget to the school board on Sept. 12. The $176 million budget for all funds is an increase of 4 percent from the 2018 budget and includes a 2.5 percent salary increase for teachers in the 2018-19 school year and a 1 percent salary increase the following year. It also includes a 5 percent increase in health and dental insurance premiums, the first increase in six years.
The proposed budget is not expected to lead to much of a tax increase. The current rate is 81.18 cents per $100 of assessed property value, and the new rate is expected to be 81.93 cents.
Changes in state law mostly affect how districts allocate funds. Instead of funneling dollars into four funds designated for specific purposes, districts must now collect them in two pools: the education fund and operations fund.
“What’s going on in school accounting right now is major changes, the likes of which I’ve certainly not seen in my career,” McMichael said.
The education fund will support student instruction and learning and cover expenses such as teacher and principal salaries and classroom supplies. The operation fund will cover transportation costs, capital projects, bus replacement and other non-classroom expenses.
“This is a significant change in accounting, but it’s not about getting more money,” McMichael said. “Our expenses haven’t particularly changed, and the money we’re getting hasn’t particularly changed.”
Nearly 80 percent of educational funding for CCS comes from the state, with property taxes comprising 18 percent through a referendum approved in 2017. Carmel receives the second-lowest amount of funding per pupil through the state’s funding formula.
McMichael said the change in school accounting law is designed to provide more local control and flexibility for districts.
“Over my career there have been times we have said, ‘We wish we could use this money for facilities, but we can’t,’” he said. “Well now we can.”
The school board is expected to hold a public hearing on the budget and adopt a resolution to establish the new funds at a meeting on Sept. 24 and vote on the budget make transfers to the new funds on Oct. 22. The new tax rate is expected to be certified and adopted by the end of the year.