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At this time, Lake Ridge Schools is facing fiscal short falls due to numerous reasons. Lake Ridge Schools is experiencing a reduction of amount of dollars received per student. This is a seven year trend of a reduction in a foundation calculation for the per pupil tuition support. This has resulted in Lake Ridge School receiving less State revenue.

Lake Ridge Schools experienced an average collection rate from local taxes of 66% to 76%. This has resulted in the school receiving less local tax revenue. Lake Ridge Schools is also experiencing a reduction of dollars due to circuit breaker in the amount of approximately $675,000.

Lake Ridge Schools anticipates its general revenue to $14,600,000. Lake Ridge Schools current anticipated general fund expenses are $16,900,000. The general fund is used to pay staff salaries, benefits, classroom supplies and equipment, and utilities; 80% of the amount within this fund is reserved in the budget for salary and benefits. The remaining 15% is necessary maintenance, utilities, and classroom programs such as Project Lead the Way. Lake Ridge School is expects to receive $14,900,000 for general fund operations. The current year general fund obligations for salary and fringe benefits is estimated to be $13,600,000.

These fiscal concerns were shared with the teachers’ union early in 2013 leading up to Lake Ridge Schools preparing its budget. Indiana state statute requires the school corporation through its business manager to prepare a draft budget. Pursuant to IC 6-1.1-17-3 & 5, this budget is presented to the public, including teachers, in an open meeting. This open meeting requires the school budget to hold a hearing to permit comments and to air any concerns on the budget. This was presented on September 9, 2013. At this public meeting, teachers were present but made no comments about the budget. Copies of the budget have been presented to the teachers’ union. Prior to September 9, 2013, there were several open meetings with the public early in 2013 to review the fiscal deficit that the school corporation was facing. Those earlier discussions also included reviewing concerns that lead to the decision to close Grissom Elementary to assist in reducing cost. The Union was present and participated in all of those discussions. Due to the closing of Grissom Elementary and the school corporation’s fiscal crisis, the administration and Union has a series of meeting between March and June 2013 to review options for reducing budget expenditures in light of loss of revenues.

The net result is that Lake Ridge Schools’s general fund expenditures exceed the revenue from the State of Indiana which results in deficit financing. In 2011, the Indiana General Assembly passed a statute that states, “It is unlawful for a school employer to enter into any [collective bargaining] agreement that would place the employer in a position of deficit financing due to a reduction in the employer’s actual general fund revenues or an increase in the employer’s expenditures when the expenditures exceed the employer’s current year general fund revenues.” IC 20-29-6-3(a).

As part of the Lake Ridge Schools effects toward creating a 21st century learning environment, all students from grades 6 through 12 have a laptop. Students in Kindergarten and 5th grade have mobile computer labs for learning. All teachers from kindergarten to grade 12 have laptops. Administrators have been issued iPads to assist with data collection and teacher evaluation. No computers, laptop and iPads have been purchased through general fund; thus avoiding expenditures from the general fund that reduces the school board’s from being able to give ample consideration to salaries and fringe benefits.

Within the last year, administrators were not given a raise on their base salary. Alternatively, Lake Ridge Schools sought and received two Excellences in Performance Awards for Teachers the Indiana Department of Education. The grant allows for incentive pay based on performance guaranteed raises for teachers for the 2012-2013 school year and the 2013-2014 school year. No other employee group was given this consideration. All teachers and administrators are on the same insurance plan. All teachers and administrators pay the same amounts and the school board contributes to each employee insurance plan each month without discriminating between the employee groups.

In the fall of 2011, the school board provided 3% appreciation pay to all teachers. At that same time, the school board provided a 1% appreciation pay to its administrators. Teachers continued to receive step increases on their base salary through 2012. Data from the Indiana Education Labor Relations Board showed that the teachers of Lake Ridge Schools are the 8th highest paid in the Lake and Porter County areas.

The Lake Ridge AFT teachers’ union and school board are currently in contract negotiations and have requested a mediator to assist with discussions. Lake Ridge Schools will not comment on any contract proposals between the parties at this time.

Dr. Sharon Johnson-Shirley

Superintendent

Lake Ridge Schools



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