To the Editor:
School governance and funding is always a hometown issue.
Whether you have kids in school or not, you are involved in schools. When you pay a sales tax or file an income tax return you are funding schools. Don't let anyone tell you that Indiana ranks low in its commitment to schools. The State of Indiana's annual budget is 50 percent devoted to school funding.
The current political stalemate at the Statehouse over the budget is resting squarely on this very issue of school funding. What is bothering me is the lack of accountability that some of our legislators seem to tolerate when it comes to funding Indiana schools.
At the center of the battle is whether or not the State will continue to distribute tax money to schools that parents are deciding to leave. Under the proposed and passed Special Session House Bill last week, schools that are losing students at alarming rates, such as Indianapolis Public Schools (est. 3,800 students lost over the next two years), would get a FIVE YEAR phase out of lost funds following the child to a different district. All at the taxpayers expense. This would be over and above current and proposed funding that would still increase ALL Indiana school districts funding for an average 2 percent over that same period.
That would include "stimulus" money from the federal government, still a funding increase for schools.
How does that extra funding of "ghost" students help anyone except the top heavy districts like IPS and other urban school districts in the same stew of fast declining enrollments?
My school district could use that extra money, too. But realistically under the current economic conditions (10 percent-plus unemployment statewide) I couldn't expect taxpayers to pickup that "extra" tab.
Jack Berry is a fourteen year member of the Greencastle Community School Corporation