Gary Schools Hits Budget Surplus
The Gary Community School Corporation is reporting a $2 million surplus for 2021 after having a deficit of more than $21 million just four years prior. The district calls the surplus a “watershed moment” that was achieved through multiple strategies.
In 2017, the state appointed Florida-based MGT Consulting to manage Gary Schools in an effort to bring the district to financial solvency. The district’s deficit had fallen each year since the appointment.
“Achieving a balanced budget is a landmark occasion, especially after GCSC ran a deficit of more than $20 million,” said Eric Parish, executive vice president of MGT in written remarks. “This accomplishment is due to many difficult decisions made by the State of Indiana, the MGT team, and district administrators, as well as the Gary community’s overwhelming backing of the 2020 referendum.”
The district said the referendum, approved by 60% of voters in 2020, generated about $8 million in additional revenue. Additionally, the district reduced the number of administrators to be more in line with current enrollment.
Gary Schools says it has also been able to invest in academics while reducing the deficit, including by giving teachers raises for the first time in decades and providing a laptop or tablet to every student and teacher.
“Our team’s priorities are student safety and student academic success, and we have done the work to ensure our budget reflects these priorities,” said GCSC Manager Dr. Paige McNulty. “A lot of people put in a lot of time to make this happen, and we’re grateful for their efforts to create the conditions where more students can be successful.”
The district says its total debt has also decreased from $104 million in 2017 to $71 million in 2021. Officials say the district will work to build its reserves while making strategic investments and continue to pay down its debt.