For Greencastle Community Schools, this meant cutting $471,000 from an already tight budget.
The first cost-cutting measure the district took was to decrease work hours for about 25 instructional aides. At Wednesday's meeting, the Greencastle Community School Corp. Board of School Trustees gave Superintendent Robert Green permission to prepare Reduction in Force (RIF) letters for teachers. Green said if teachers were to be cut, as many as nine employees could be affected.
While Gov. Mitch Daniels sympathizes with Greencastle and other school corporations that are feeling the pinch of decreased funding, he insisted the cuts were necessary if tax hikes were to be avoided.
Daniels also pointed out that all school districts received a checklist from the Indiana Board of Education outlining ways they could cut costs without compromising instruction. He was somewhat taken aback by the fact that Greencastle was already considering cutting teaching positions.
"Teachers could skip a raise or salaries could be reduced," Daniels said. "The average teacher in Indiana makes $49,000 a year -- the average Hoosier makes $39,000. I've had to ask state employees to forgo raises twice."
Daniels also stressed that every other area of the state budget was cut before the education budget was touched.
"We squeezed everything else -- 2.7 percent doesn't seem like too much to ask," he said. "When people tell me they don't think we should be cutting school funding, I say, 'OK ... What tax do you want to increase?'"
Daniels pointed out that other states have had to make much deeper cuts to K-12 education programs.
"Our reduction here is so much smaller than other states," he said. "We had to do it. I can't tell you we've seen any signs of sharp recovery. We're no longer overbuilding (school facilities), but we're still paying off projects."
Daniels said in his estimation, many schools could also save money by shaving administrative positions.
"There's often too much in the back office or administration," he said. "We've delivered money, but it hasn't been used to the instruction of students the way it should be. I have plenty of understanding and sympathy, but I hope people will look at (the funding cuts) as a chance to innovate and provide a better product. I wish people would say, 'Look, let's do what's best for the kids.'"
Daniels said he knew unemployment in Indiana -- which now stands at 9.9 percent -- is a continuing problem. He said although Indiana is one of the most inexpensive and best-located places in which to do business, until the entire country's economy bounced back, the Hoosier State would still struggle.
"It feel like we're the prettiest girl in school and they called off the prom," he said with a chuckle.
Daniels was surprised to learn that a page encouraging him to run for president in 2012 had been established on the social networking site Facebook.
"Wow," he said. "I don't even know who those people are."
Daniels said he doesn't "expect to have a political future."
"It would scare me to death," he said of a possible run for the White House.
Daniels said Major Moves -- a plan he conceived in which the Indiana Toll Road was leased for 75 years to an Australian-Spanish consortium in 2006 for an upfront payment of $3.8 billion, which was distributed amongst all 92 Indiana counties to be used for infrastructure improvement -- remained a jewel in his crown.
"We got a tremendous, tremendous deal," he said. "I thought there would be a parade of these after we did it. It's so obvious. We're breaking records, and it's all found money."