Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tribune Asks Whether South Bend Schools Will Consider a Referendum

From the South Bend Tribune:

The South Bend Community School Corp.’s top budget guy gave the school board an unpleasant heads up about three years in advance at a special meeting Monday evening.

Since 2010, the district has lost more than $10 million — almost 20 percent of the revenue -— in its capital projects fund to Circuit Breaker tax caps and a declining assessed valuation.
Capital projects is the pot of money schools use to maintain and upgrade buildings and technology.

“It’s at what I would call a critical juncture,” Bob Orlowski, executive director of administrative services, told the school board. “We’ll be all right in ’14, ’15,” he said. “In ’16, we’ll be marginal. But by year 2017, that account will need $2.5 million in additional reductions.”
Already, Orlowski said, $450,000 has been reduced from the capital projects fund this year. That’s been done on a department-by-department basis by making cuts in areas such as maintenance and repair work, to name just two.
The district is facing similar declines in its transportation fund.
A board member asked Orlowski about other options.
“You can do a referendum … to add additional dollars,” Orlowski said, “but outside of that, we have limited options.”
Board President Michelle Engel asked, “Shouldn’t the preparation (for a referendum) begin now? That doesn’t seem like something you just do.”