AVON — The belt-tightening continues for the school corporation here.
The Avon School Board unanimously approved the corporation's 2013 budget at its last meeting. Board member Mark Buckley was unable to attend.
The budget is for $95.3 million, which is 1.8 percent more than the previous budget, but still 6.1 percent less than in 2010.
"The trend line is still going down compared to where we have been," said Brock Bowsher, director of finance and operations for the Avon Community School Corporation.
This budget, which has been submitted to the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance for approval, represents $600 less per student over the past three years.
"If there were $600 a year taken out of my budget for every single one of my children, I would find it hard to make ends meet," Board President Kim Woodward said.
Some of it can be attributed to Avon's property tax levy decreasing $473,000 from the previous budget. The town's total tax rate also declined.
Board member Pam DeWeese lamented that, in two public meetings of budget discussions, she only saw one resident attend. Considering some of the recent difficult budget cuts, the lack of public interest surprises her.
"People are going to be upset and concerned," DeWeese said of the new budget. "Put your money where your mouth is."
Teachers will notice the pinch too. Under a new contract approved by the school corporation and Indiana Federation of Teachers Local 3519 union, teacher compensation will now be largely based on performance instead of experience and education.
Under the approved evaluation program, a teacher can earn up to 15 points for years of experience, professional development or certification, and providing leadership for students' academic needs, like staying after school to tutor.
"It's for something that goes above and beyond the regular work day," Associate Superintendent Kent DeKoninck said of the last category.
An effective or highly effective rating on a teacher's evaluation equals nine points - or 60 percent of performance pay.
Points earned will be paid the following school year. Each year the amount of money bargained for in performance pay will be divided by the total number of points earned by all the teachers, who number almost 450. Each point is worth only so much. If a teacher earns the maximum 15 points, he/she gets 15 times whatever each point is worth.
For now, it's not much. The corporation added $200 for each teacher to this school year's contract, based on last year's evaluations. That doesn't apply to instructors starting this year.
The corporation has made $100,000 available in performance pay for the 2012-13 year. If every teacher earns the maximum number of points, that equals to about $200 each, which is hundreds of thousands of dollars less than what's usually devoted to raises.
School board members and administration officials called the contract bittersweet. They were glad an agreement could be reached without acrimony, but expressed sadness at how little it amounts to.
DeKoninck had nothing but praise for the teachers union.
"Our negotiations are better and more professional than any I've ever been associated with," he said. "The understanding they have of our financial situation, and the professionalism they exude, is unbelievable."
That made the decision for the school board, which unanimously approved the deal, even more difficult. Woodward said she "utterly hates" the contract.
"Our teachers are second to none," she said. "I don't think the relationship we enjoy with our union would be possible if we didn't have such an open and transparent administration that they trust."
Added board member Anne Engelhardt, "I hate to say this is the best we can do - because a lot of work was put into it - but it's not what I wanted. The amount of money being divided up and rewarded in no way reflects my belief in them."