School funds won't come until summer

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By Kevin Koelling, Managing Editor

Businesses can't operate without revenues, superintendent notes

CANNELTON - In giving his financial report during a regular school-board meeting Wednesday, Cannelton Schools Superintendent Al Chapman said property-tax revenue isn't normally provided until May or June each year, but he'd received word it won't arrive until July.

"I heard we probably won't see it until August," board member Barbara Beard told him. She presided over the meeting in the absence of Board President Christal Moskos, who was out of town, Chapman said.

Chapman called that situation "critical."

"That's 30 percent of our income," he said, noting no business can be expected to operate for so long without such a significant portion of their revenue.

In a separate action, the board approved Chapman's request to advertise for a tax-anticipation loan.

"This will allow us to borrow $200,000 for the period January through June 2008," he said. "When our tax money comes in ... then that money is paid back."

The process could be repeated the second half of the year, he said, adding he'd have to confer with the corporation attorney about the delay in tax funding.

On Chapman's recommendation, the board also approved an "assignment and security agreement," which he explained allows him to set up electronic transfers that would automatically make loan payments when tax money is deposited into a corporation bank account.

Youngsters to be Rounded Up

Schools Principal Ginger Conrad reported round-ups for preschool and kindergarten students entering the system in the fall will be conducted 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. April 29 at Myers Grade School.

The annual event "kind of gives us an idea what to shoot for for enrollment," she said.

"It's going to be pretty important this year to look at that," Chapman said. "We have two unusually large kindergarten and first-grade classes, and we actually gained some students over the break."

At his request, Conrad reported the count stood at 31 kindergartners and 33 first-graders.

"It's a good thing because those are much larger classes than they've been used to," Chapman said, "but it also puts us in a staffing situation which is a bit of a problem because that's a lot of kids in first grade and kindergarten ... and we really don't have extra classrooms."

"It's a good challenge," Conrad added.

Chapman provided the board two drafts of an academic calendar for next year he said are similar to past calendars. They're still under discussion with teachers, he said, and the difference between them is "one starts a week later and one has a week off for spring vacation and the other has two weeks off.

"We want to get everybody's input," he said.

Legislation Brings Uncertainty

Chapman also provided a legislative update from an Indianapolis law firm, "to help you better understand as board members what the new (legislation) is and what ... the impact is going to be."

He said uncertainties exist about property-tax reforms contained in a bill adopted in mid-March, but it appears Cannelton schools will feel a lighter impact than many other school systems.

"I would like to point out that they're making a big deal that they've done such great things for us by cutting property taxes," Beard said, but a state sales tax has already been raised and for current services to continue, local officials will have to adopt new taxes. "What it amounts to is we're going to be paying the taxes, whether it's property taxes or something else."

State officials don't really understand how the tax changes will affect local entities, she added. "Until they complete everything, they're really not going to know where they're at."

The Indiana School Board Association feels "it's not necessarily a good thing ... there are a couple of things they thought were positive, but the majority of it is not going to help schools function. It may help the taxpayers, but it's not going to help the schools."