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The Indiana General Assembly, in its infinite collective wisdom, has created a series of quirks in the upcoming budget approval process for some Indiana school districts.
Larry Carty, business manager at North Adams Community Schools, on Tuesday evening reported that one of the changes implemented this year by state lawmakers requires that the North Adams school district's 2013 operating budget must be approved and submitted to the state Department of Local Government Finance (DLGF) not by the board itself, but instead by the Decatur City Council.
The new mandate, Carty said, applies to appointed boards of education across the state. "I think this one slipped by a lot of folks, from what I'm hearing," Carty told the North Adams board members.
The irony of the new regulation, Carty added, is that the Decatur council cannot even approve its own operating budget. That responsibility lies solely with the Adams County Council, which is charged with the ultimate approval of all governmental budgets in the county.
Carty said a public hearing will be held during the Aug. 7 Decatur City Council meeting, and that panel is expected to adopt the school district's budget in early September.
"This (school) board has no part in the process," Carty said.
"If this board has no say ... can someone please tell me the logic in that," said board president Tim Ehlerding.
Carty, however, assured the board that members would have ample time to review the budget before it is submitted to the Decatur council.
For the first time in recent memory, textbook fees for elementary students in the North Adams school district this year will reflect a decrease over the previous year.
The following fees for the 2012-13 school year were adopted on Tuesday by the board of education:
Kindergarten — $39.35 (down from $63.13 last year)
Grade 1 — $108.60 (down from $120.27)
Grade 2 — $121.30 (down from $134.98)
Grade 3 — $103.73 (down from $110.68)
Grade 4 — $101.93 (down from $107.60)
Superintendent Wylie Sirk said school officials continue to seek ways to keep textbook rental costs down at all grade levels. He said high school book fees will also reflect a decrease this year as the district moves more to the use of eBooks and other electronic and digital devices.