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EVSC Board hears 2016 budget presentation; tentative collective bargaining reached with Teachers

EVSC Board hears 2016 budget presentation; tentative collective bargaining reached with Teachers

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Copyright 2014 Journal Media Group. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Megan Erbacher

8:22 PM, Aug 10, 2015

EVANSVILLE –  For the second year, Evansville Vanderburgh School Corp. employees are to receive a raise as part of the school corporation’s advertised 2016 budget.

Officials did not release the percentage of the wage increase.

Monday wasn’t only the first day of class for the 2015-16 school year, but EVSC School Board members also heard a 2016 budget presentation from Chief Financial Officer Carl Underwood. It was an information item, and won’t officially be adopted until late September.

EVSC’s advertised budget is about $238.5 million. However, $4 million of the capital projects fund is money the school corporation already has, but must be advertised in case it is needed. While the EVSC is eligible for about $7.1 million in the bus replacement fund, officials anticipate receiving about $3.6 million. Therefore, anticipated EVSC funding for 2016 is about $224.1 million, Underwood said.

“We’ll be advertising high to protect our budget,” he said.

For 2016, there is no increase in health insurance spending, according to Underwood.

“It’s building a wage increase for employees, which was the strategy of (EVSC Superintendent David Smith) and the board all along,” he said.

Smith said the school board worked “incredibly hard” to lower health care costs, and partly attributed flat health care spending and wage increases to EVSC’s two Health and Wellness Centers.

“It was exactly what we said,” Smith said. “If we get health insurance spending under control, then we can start putting the money that would have gone into health insurance increases into your pocket.”

Underwood said a “big change” this year is the basic tuition support formula for full-day kindergarten students, who will now be counted as a full student. Underwood estimated revenue would increase about $2.7 million compared to last year. For 2016, the basic tuition support is about $111.3 million.

In the past, Smith said kindergarten students were counted as half-a-student, so school corporations would only receive half the funding for basic tuition support, then a grant would provide remaining funding.

“Kindergarten students are not really any cheaper to educate. … It’s finally recognition that a whole kindergarten child is as expensive to educate as a whole first grade child,” he said.

Other 2016 budget assumptions include:

Slightly more than 93 percent of the $156.3 million general fund will be used for employee salaries and benefits.

A three-year plan for the capital projects fund is about $27.2 million, with about $4 million of the $14.7 million construction and improvements category being previously obtained funds for a future project. The majority of utility costs are paid through the capital projects fund, per state statute, at $4.6 million.

The 2016 Rainy Day Fund revenue is about $6.8 million, which is cash the school corporation already has but must advertise in case it’s needed.

The budget assumes a slight decrease in this year’s overall assessed value of Vanderburgh County property from $6.5 billion in 2014-15 to $6.4 billion for 2015-16.

A “regular” debt obligation of $12.8 million is listed in the EVSC’s budget plan.

The budget runs on a fiscal year revenue cycle instead of an academic year calendar, a change that went into effect two years ago.

The state funding calculation also changed two years ago, which is now based on two student enrollment count days — one in September and one in February — instead of only one as in past years. The 2016 budget assumes enrollment projections to be flat.

Underwood will ask board permission to advertise the proposed budget at an Aug. 24 meeting. A public hearing will take place Sept. 8 and it is to be adopted by the board Sept. 21.

In other news at the meeting, officials announced a tentative collective bargaining agreement has been reached between the board and the Evansville Teachers Association. Pending approval by both union and board members, the agreement is for the next two school years and includes an opportunity for all teachers to increase base salary at least two percent over the next two years.

Informational meetings for union members are scheduled for Aug. 25-26, and voting will take place at the beginning of September.

Copyright 2015 Journal Media Group. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.