The Fort Wayne Community Schools Board of School Trustees on Monday, Jan. 22, asked the Indiana General Assembly to eliminate the Racial Balance Fund to better align with the school funding changes approved last year in HEA 1009.
HEA 1009 eliminates the General Fund, Capital Projects Fund, Transportation Fund and Bus Replacement Fund and replaces them with the Educational Fund and the Operational Fund beginning in 2019. The Racial Balance Fund, which is unique to FWCS, was not addressed in the legislation. The Racial Balance Fund was established in 1989 as part of the settlement with Parents for Quality Education through Integration (PQEI). The fund was to support magnet programs and provide resources to maintain racial balance throughout the District. The creation of the fund was required to be tax neutral, which was achieved by reducing the amount collected for the Capital Projects Fund. With the elimination of the Capital Projects Fund as part of HEA 1009, there is no longer a clear funding source for Racial Balance.
“While the desegregation order ended with the 1996-97 school year, we have remained committed to our magnet programs and support systems that benefit students throughout the District,” Superintendent Dr. Wendy Robinson said. “This resolution approved by the Board reaffirms that commitment.”
The Racial Balance Fund, which has a $7.1 million budget for 2018, currently supports magnet school programming, instructional coaches, the Family and Community Engagement Center and additional resources for all schools. FWCS has seven magnet schools – Bunche Montessori and Whitney Young early childhood centers; Croninger, Irwin and Weisser Park elementary schools; Towles Intermediate School and Memorial Park Middle School. The magnet schools have no geographic attendance boundary and instead rely on student applications for enrollment. Students can live anywhere in FWCS and attend a magnet school, space permitting. When there are more applications than spaces available, a lottery is held.
“We consider our magnet program one of the successes of our District, and the community has continued to support it for multiple generations,” Dr. Robinson said. “We are proud to see this tradition continue.”