SELLERSBURG — The Silver Creek Community School Corp. board at a recent meeting approved a 2021 budget of $30 million.
The board unanimously voted Monday to adopt the budget, which will be submitted to the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance. The budget includes $7,229,124 for operations, $15,507,106 for education, $385,178 for debt service and $7,221,972 for debt payment.
Silver Creek’s tax rate is advertised at $0.94. However, it might be lower depending on the district’s assessed value, according to Thomas Brillhart, Silver Creek’s assistant superintendent and chief financial officer.
One of the concerns is the financial effects of COVID-19, particularly funding for virtual students, Brillhart said. Although students in both traditional and virtual learning models are now 100% funded, it is uncertain whether state legislators will approve full funding for virtual students in the spring.
If the district receives 15% less funding in the spring, it would cost the district about half a million dollars, Brillhart said.
Due to contractual obligations for 2021, certain costs for the district would be fixed through the end of August, which would create additional challenges if virtual learning is not fully funded in the spring, Brillhart said.
“If a school corporation receives 15% less funding in the spring, which would take effect in April, we would still have to operate with the same amount of expenditures for four to five months, and we can’t make adjustments in totality like traditional entities,” he said.
The district has to carefully monitor expenditures month to month to prepare for these potential challenges in the spring, Brillhart said.
“Every month, we look at every appropriation line to see if we’re on track,” he said. “If we’re way off track, we have to investigate that and make adjustments where needed.”
The Average Daily Membership (ADM), the count of student enrollment that determines school funding, for Silver Creek is projected to be up by about 80 students since July, Brillhart said.
“It’s kind of an anomaly — a lot of school corporations are down [in ADM],” he said.
West Clark Community Schools officially split into the separate Silver Creek and Borden-Henryville districts in July, but West Clark still has outstanding debt obligations through 2033, Brillhart said. The $7 million in debt payment included in Silver Creek’s budget is for those West Clark debt obligations with a tax rate of $0.43.
“Silver Creek is given the responsibility to generate that levy, but make sure I’m very clear, Silver Creek taxpayers are not the only taxpayers to pay West Clark outstanding debt,” Brillhart said. “That debt service rate is applicable to all West Clark parcels just like last year.”
In addition to the West Clark debt obligations, Silver Creek also has its own debt service fund, just like Borden-Henryville, according Brillhart. Silver Creek’s debt service fund of $285,178 is small since Silver Creek is a new district, he said.
As a new district after the West Clark split, one of the challenges of creating a budget has been the lack of “certain historical fiscal indicators that give us a clear picture of corporation-level expenditures,” Brillhart said.
“That’s been the biggest challenge in formulating the budget, just not having any historical actuals to go off of other than items coded at the building levels,” he said.