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School district eyes events, students for revenue

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A central Indiana school district may hire an events coordinator to rent out a high school auditorium and is looking to steer students into programs that generate more state money in hopes of reducing the impact of any future budget cuts.

Franklin Community Schools officials say they don't want to be in the same situation they were last year, when the state forced the district to eliminate $3 million from its budget. The district cut six full-time and one part-time teaching positions, didn't replace seven other teachers who retired and eliminated two administrators. It also adjusted administrators' benefits to save about $62,000.

School officials say they don't want to have to make such drastic cuts again and are looking for ways to generate more revenue for the district about 15 miles south of Indianapolis.

One idea is to create a position of events coordinator, which would be a combination marketing assignment and teaching post, the Daily Journal reported. Superintendent David Clendening has asked the school board to hire an employee to attract music groups, plays, musicals and speakers to the high school auditorium. The coordinator also would teach students how to work the sound system, set up a stage and run microphones, Clendening said.

The district already rents the auditorium for events such as dance recitals, and the revenue it has generated has risen from about $22,000 a few years to about $90,000 now. Business director Jeff Mercer said he thinks the auditorium has the potential to generate $250,000 each year.

Mercer said revenue from the auditorium rental also would be used to replace light bulbs, update equipment and make repairs once it grows to about $150,000 a year.

The district also plans to move $200,000 from its food services fund, which has a nearly $800,000 surplus, to its general fund. The fund gets money from meal payments and state reimbursements for students who receive free and reduced-price lunches. It is used to pay for food, equipment and salaries of cafeteria workers.

Two other proposals include charging community groups more to use school buildings for youth sports and other activities, with money being used to pay for utilities and custodians, and bringing more students into programs that generate money.

The district could bring in more than $100,000 if 20 students who have dropped out or were expelled return to school through the high school's online program, Finish Strong. Those students count toward the district's enrollment and would each generate about $5,300 from the state.

Clendening is also looking for ways to help more teachers obtain state vocational teaching licenses for business and family and consumer sciences classes. Districts get up to $450 for each student who takes such a class from a teacher with a vocational license, and school officials estimate they could generate an additional $22,500.

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