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Parents voice anger as Carmel schools prepare to slash next year's budget

Dozens of Carmel school district parents voiced frustration, anger and outrage as the board prepared plans to slash at least $6 million from next year's budget.

Jonathan Gordon

Mar 12, 2024, 8:10 PM

Updated 126 days ago

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Dozens of Carmel school district parents voiced frustration, anger and outrage as the board prepared plans to slash at least $6 million from next year's budget.
"All kids should be able to experiment with all the stuff they want to do so it's not just about the quality I'm concerned with but also the quantity of stuff," Carmel schools parent Jenny Lambert said.
Faced with the realities of a major financial crisis on the horizon, the board released documents on a budget proposal that would include eliminating staff positions, district programs, and after-school activities.
Those cuts would save the district about $6.9 million, which would cover the deficit if the voters approve a budget next month that includes spending $1.1 million from the fund balance and a 3.52% tax increase, the maximum allowed under state law.
Financial experts and audits pointed to years of overspending and a refusal to raise taxes for much of the last decade. Federal COVID-19 relief funds helped cover up the issue but with those expiring and schools expected to receive less in aid from the state, the problem can no longer be ignored.
The board is also mulling additional cuts including a retirement incentive, athletic reductions, and merging two elementary schools. A previous plan to cut kindergarten seemed to have been ruled out by the board at Tuesday night's meeting.
These additional cuts under consideration would go beyond what would be necessary to fill the gap for next year but would allow the district to either spend less of its fund balance or lower the amount it would raise taxes on residents. The district estimates those cuts under consideration would save the district an additional $3.8 million.
"Our decisions are based on what our students face in the future and making sure we're providing them with the programs that they have and to meet those challenges," Carmel Board of Education President Dawn Dall said.
State law requires a simple majority of voters to pass a school budget that raises taxes below the cap but the district could seek to raise that number to offset cuts but it would require support from 60% of the voters.
The district will hold additional community meetings on Tuesday night's budget proposal on Thursday, March 14 and Monday, March 18.
The board must adopt a budget by April 16 before it goes before the voters on May 21.


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