While reaffirming its commitment to racial balance, Fort Wayne Community Schools will ask Indiana legislators to eliminate its racial balance fund

The Fort Wayne Community Schools board of school trustees passed a resolution Monday night requesting the Indiana General Assembly approve legislation eliminating the district’s racial balance fund and racial balance property tax levy.

But FWCS remains committed to its magnet school program and other measures intended to create racial balance in its schools, officials said.

The board, which met in Grile Administrative Center, passed the resolution because school funding changes approved last year by state legislators will eliminate the funding structure including the racial balance fund as of Jan. 1, 2019.

FWCS is the only public school district in Indiana with a racial balance fund, officials said. It was created in 1989 as part of a legal settlement with the community group Parents for Quality Education through Integration, which sought racial balance in schools in the FWCS district.

Racial balance fund money has been used to pay for operation of FWCS’ magnet school program and for other resources to improve racial balance in the district’s schools.

Magnet schools offer specialized academic programs to draw students from throughout the school district, which helps create racial balance in the 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 racial balance fund was funded through property tax revenue. Beginning Jan. 1, 2019, the property tax revenue will flow into the operational fund, which also takes the place of the currently separate funds for capital projects, transportation and bus replacement.

FWCS will draw money from the operational fund to pay for the magnet schools program and other programming that maintains racial balance in its schools, officials said.

In other business, the board:

• Recognized three students for receiving prestigious Lilly Scholarships, which provide four-year, full tuition payment for Indiana students pursuing a bachelor’s degree at an Indiana college or university. Lilly Scholars also receive $900 per school year to pay for books and educational equipment.

The recipients and their planned college majors are Noah Moreno of Northrop High School, music industry performance; Dora Carlisle of South Side High School, psychology; and Vanessa Murillo of South Side, nursing.

• Honored Laura McCoy, the music teacher at St. Joseph Central Elementary School, for being named one of 25 semifinalists nationally for the 2018 Grammy Music Educator Award. The award recognizes music educators who have made major contributions to their field and who demonstrate a commitment to maintaining music education in schools.

McCoy, who is in her 39th year of teaching, received $500 to use for her classroom and $500 for herself.

• Approved accepting the low bids on several construction projects, including a low bid of nearly $7.4 million from CME Corp. of Fort Wayne for a major renovation of Lane Middle School. Renovation work will take place this summer and next and after school during the school year, Darren Hess, FWCS director of facilities, told the board. Most of the work should be completed by July 25, 2019.

COMMENTS