FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) - In a public hearing tonight, the Fort Wayne Community Schools school board addressed the upcoming 2021 budget.
District Chief Financial Officer Kathy Friend says part of that money will be used to make upgrades at multiple schools in their Capital Projects Plan.
High Schools like Northrop and Wayne included because they need partial roof replacements, but these projects aren’t included in the 2016 or 2020 referendums
Friend said "Capital projects plan is funded out of the operations fund of the budget, and that does not include anything that is part of the referendum. So, these are normal, annual capital projects that are taking care of our buildings."
The district also plans to make upgrades to school buses as part of their plan to replace the 12-year-old buses every year.
One of their newer budget items is the newer technology. Friend says they currently borrow money from the state to replace technology, but with having used federal and state COVID-relief money to purchase thousands of laptops and wifi hotspots for students to access learning at home, there technology debt could increase.
"The technology is expanding and so we may have to borrow more in the future in order to have those replacements taken care of," according to Friend.
Overall, the current proposed budget could increase property tax rates in the county by one to two percent from where it already is, but Friend believes that the real dollar amount increasing for families will be minimal.
The final property tax increase will depend on the net assessed value for each property, which friend says won’t be determined until a later date.
She also believes spending may be down as well thanks to COVID-19 impacting the state budget.
"They’re going to have a big challenge in front of them next year because the state does have revenue shortfalls and they’ll be developing a new school funding formula, and we anticipate that that’ll be an impact to schools, school funding next year." Friend said.
The plan to vote on the proposed budget will take place at the board meeting in two weeks, on Oct. 12.