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Governor's Visit

Friday, February 12, 2010

Daniels shares thoughts on school budget cuts, state economy

(Photo)
Governor Mitch Daniels was in Brazil Thursday sharing his thoughts on a number of issues currently facing Indiana. [Order this photo]
BRAZIL -- Schools in Putnam County and throughout the state are grappling with financial issues in the wake of an announcement that state funding for 2010 would be slashed by 2.7 percent.

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."


Comments
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Mitch Daniels is a fair man. Everyone must work together in these times. He reflects good sense to cut overhead, not teachers. There is so much waste in schools.

-- Posted by juni on Fri, Feb 12, 2010, at 4:20 AM

Marion County has one Superintendent why does Putnam County need four? What a waste of money that could be spent on real education. CUT THE FAT! Educate our children.

-- Posted by Hazel on Fri, Feb 12, 2010, at 6:45 AM

I agree, Putnam county needs to look seriously at consolidating into one community school corporation!

-- Posted by grtful on Fri, Feb 12, 2010, at 7:57 AM

Consolidation not a bad idea! Then we only have to bash one person instead of four when necessary cuts are made. I am sick of every government agency being bashed and pressured when cuts are made. There is no money folks we have over spent and we can't spend our way out of debt!

-- Posted by hardtobelieve on Fri, Feb 12, 2010, at 8:20 AM

Hard to believe a problem like this even exists when the government is burning billions to bail out banks... another example of your rights and liberties taking a back seat to foreign interests and corporate entities.

-- Posted by westforty on Fri, Feb 12, 2010, at 8:57 AM

Purdue_fan: Agreed. I could care less as well about an irrelevant facebook page. It has nothing to do with the story. I thought for a minute I was reading my old high school paper.

Consolidating seems like the best option. I wondered years ago why it was necessary for Putnam county to have 4 superintendents and 4 assistant superintendents, not to mention all the office staff each has.

Does anybody know the answer to this question? Do the Greencastle school board members receive insurance provided by the school district? I heard that somewhere, and didn't know if there was any truth to that.

-- Posted by annoyed_citizen on Fri, Feb 12, 2010, at 9:16 AM

"...we can't spend our way out of debt!" Best comment made so far! Says it all!

-- Posted by BG-reader on Fri, Feb 12, 2010, at 9:18 AM

Governor, thank you for keeping our state above water. You have ran Indiana like a well run company which is why we are in much better shape than many other states. Mitch has made some mistakes but overall job well done. As far as the schools and having to make cuts. Oh well!! Everbody is having to cut something. Schools could really do some good by consolidating the sups so you only had one in charge of all 4 schools. Hard to believe well said " We can't spend our way out of debt." I only wish Washington and Congressman Ellsworth would learn, know and understand that fact.

-- Posted by Heritage Lake Resident on Fri, Feb 12, 2010, at 9:29 AM

Juni & Heritage Lake Resident what world are you living in?????

The governor states that the Average Teacher earns $49,000, the average Hoosier earns $39,000, but here's where the cuts have been made - I am a State Employee and I am earning $22,000 after 19 years of service. The State Employees (not Legislature and executive staff) are where the salary cuts are being made. Our insurance premiums have increased considerably and the benefits have decreased. In the past, there were State Employees who were goofing-off, and wasting time, these have given everyone a bad impression of State Employees. Many jobs have been cut, and on a personal level - I am now doing the work of three people for $22,000 a year.

-- Posted by Taxpayer5253 on Fri, Feb 12, 2010, at 9:59 AM

MR. MITCH....I WONDER IF YOU WORE THAT SWEATER AT THE SUPER BOWL GAME WHILE LOOKING FOR JOBS TO HELP OUT INDIANA....OMG! WHAT A LIAR!

-- Posted by Michele1953 on Fri, Feb 12, 2010, at 10:41 AM

Taxpayer5253, with all do respect if you are unhappy about making $22,000 dollars a year after 19 years of service find another job. As far as your benefits go, I understand the frustration of increasing premiums, but once again if you are unhappy about that find another job! Mitch Daniles has only been govenor for 6 of your 19 years as a state employee. Why did previous governors not give raises? I do agree with you that the legislature and executive staff should be taken pay cuts as well if they have not already.

-- Posted by Heritage Lake Resident on Fri, Feb 12, 2010, at 10:52 AM

Heritage Lake Resident, Do you ever leave the lake? As the article said we have a 9.9% unemployment rate so how do you expect Taxpayer5253 to find another job? I have not seen Mitch do anything good for our state. He has made a lot of changes but who did they really benefit? Examples: Daylight Savings Time, Lottery, and as he mentioned the toll roads. What a great governor. I miss having Evan Bayh as our governor.

-- Posted by Concerned in GRC on Fri, Feb 12, 2010, at 12:06 PM

He wants to help the state why don't he take a pay cut along with all the senators, legislators, and etc. Like he said the average Hoosier makes $39,000; why don't they try living on that? "Practice What You Are Preaching Mitch!!!!!!"Then cut out the spot bonuses of over $600,000 that were paid out last year. Then we wouldn't have to cut our school budgets.

I can tell you Mitch's policy's on pay for performance for state employees doesn't work when there is a budget constraint. That means even if 10 people deserve a raise but there is only enough money to give 4 people a raise the supervisor have to decide who gets the raise and who doesn't. Then they give 6 people a bad performance appraisal to "justify" why they don't get raises; which then makes it hard for them to get a different job. That's when we do get raises.

I do agree with trimming the fat in the Putnam county school corporation; as all as it doesn't have a bad affect on how the schools are run.

-- Posted by WitchBitch on Fri, Feb 12, 2010, at 1:03 PM

Concerned in GRC, I leave the lake everday on my way to Indianapolis to go to work. Your right the unemployment rate is 9.9% but that is not all Daniels fault. Furthermore, as taxpayer stated she has been at this job for 19 years. Is it just now that she is unsatisfied with her pay? Also, just a friendly helping hand to taxpayer... go to career builder.com and you will find that there are jobs in the Indianapolis area many of which pay more than $22,000 a year.

Indianapolis- 2,200 jobs

Plainfield- 34

Avon- 17

Brownsburgh- 12

Danville- 9

Greencastle- 8

You just have to look!!!!

As far as Day light savings time brilliant!!! Toll roads brilliant!!! I wish Putnam County would sell off their roads. Maybe we would get better snow removal from a private owner. Lottery, love it. I play it often. I even go to the casino's and play the slots and bet on some horses. Doing my part in making sure that the schools are paid for. Well that and my federal, state, local and property taxes.

-- Posted by Heritage Lake Resident on Fri, Feb 12, 2010, at 1:28 PM

The Governor's salary data is a bit skewed. The $39,000 figure he is using is from the 2000 US Census. According to the Census Bureau's more recent salary tracking in today's dollars, the average Indiana salary was $47,898 for 2007-2008. According the Census Bureau's three-year model, that number stands at $48,095. Futhermore, online research shows that teacher's salaries sit hover around $47,300 which is at best on-par with the actual salaries in the state. This his hardly the $10,000 annual windfall the Governor is trying to paint.

-- Posted by thingsfallapart on Fri, Feb 12, 2010, at 2:07 PM

New flash Toll road sale was great!! Really?? Why don't you go talk to the people who lost their jobs when state was prmoised that they wouldn't and they also are not meeting the other contract obligations. Oh in you probable didn't hear that there is talk about the company who bought the toll roads is going bankrupt.

So yes let's just sell off our local jobs. That's the problem with the United states we don't take care of our own enough.

-- Posted by WitchBitch on Fri, Feb 12, 2010, at 3:10 PM

The governor states that the Average Teacher earns $49,000, the average Hoosier earns $39,000 ... hmmmmm and with tons of vacation & sick time -- Maybe the teachers should be looking at giving a little if they want to save jobs - most places are doing it - why not them?

-- Posted by BG-reader on Fri, Feb 12, 2010, at 3:29 PM

BG-reader makes the valid argument albiet with a patronizing and uncivil tone (given the nature of most of the personalities that contribute to these blogs, that's not surprising).

However what BG-reader calls "tons of vaction time" is probably true for teachers whose salary functions as a supplementary income in a two-earner family.

In my case, however, this "vaction time" is probably more aptly called "unemployment". I've spent my summer building houses, mowing fairways, working a college bookstore, teaching summer school, painting houses, and standing in septic lines. I have also pursued employment over the Christmas break as well at places such as Walmart. It has hardly been an exotic sabbatical mingling with the natives in Costa Rica.

Finally, BG-reader says (again with a hostile tone that suggests a resentment which runs beyond this issue) that we should "give a little" as well.

I'm rasing a family of four in a two-bedroom house of roughly 1000 square-feet. I'm driving a 22-year-old car that falls apart 3-4 times a year. I wear pants to my classroom that has holes in them. Would BG-reader prefer I give him a kidney or testicle?

Finally, as previously mentioned, the Governor's data regarding teacher salaries and average Hoosier salaries is, simply put, wrong. I have little doubt the Governor knows this, too.

-- Posted by thingsfallapart on Fri, Feb 12, 2010, at 4:47 PM

Mitch Daniels is not a fair man. Unless your making well into the 6 digit income bracket or beyond.

-- Posted by Harmony Church on Fri, Feb 12, 2010, at 6:23 PM

According to the Indiana State Department of Education, the average teacher salary for South Putnam schools is $39,000, about 20% lower than the $49,000 state average Gov. Daniels cited. Of all teachers, 100% hold a four year bachelor degree, have passed high stakes testing, and hold professional educator licenses. Many teachers also have a Master's degree plus many hours above. Conversely, less than 20% of all Hoosiers have a four year degree, and about 20% of our population did not graduate from high school. (http://www.incontext.indiana.edu/2002/may-june02/spotlight.asp)

Has Gov. Daniels made a fair comparison when he suggests that teachers are already overpaid by comparison to all Hoosiers?

-- Posted by sneakers on Fri, Feb 12, 2010, at 10:10 PM

I am an educator in Putnam County. The sad part of all this is that Daniels or Bennett have not been in a classroom in a small town or rural school. Do they know how all these cuts will affect the students in Indiana? Do they see parents coming into school asking for help with their child, asking for help with electricity, asking for help with study skills, asking for help with the court system, asking for help with a defiant child, asking for help with homework? If we cut these valuable teachers, what is going to happen to the students at risk? What is going to happen to that one student who has finally found a role model in an educator and then they are cut. God knows what is going to happen to all the students who find school as a safe place when the teachers are gone? These are not isolated examples.

BG-Reader:

Get your facts straight before you type. I do have several sick days and get the summer off (so you say). However, do you want me to add my hours up that I spend at school and non-school functions? Lets, see I get to work around 7 (before many people start work) and leave between 5-6:30 (depending on what is going on at school). Then I spend the evening grading papers, thinking about new ideas to motivate the students, and lastly think about how I can reach that one student that does not like school. Do you put this much time into your job? Do you have to take classes every 5 years? The state does not pay for it...I DO. Raising tuition cost does not help when taking master level classes, but to be a teacher you must do it.

Now, I don't get paid anywhere near the $49,000 a year even after 15 years of teaching. Let's look at this a differnet way. I am paid over the summer, but do not get paid for the summer months.

The last thing to think about is:

ARE WE DOING WHAT IS BEST FOR ALL CHILDREN?

-- Posted by joey1 on Sat, Feb 13, 2010, at 6:14 PM

Mitch may be seeking a new avenue overhauling the teachers pension to make it more lucrative as he did for IPALCO.

-- Posted by farmer on Mon, Feb 15, 2010, at 9:09 PM

Just curious, but how come prisoners can get a FREE (to them) college education (paid for by taxpayers), when the schools are being forced to cut money? How about we stop paying for the education of those who more than likely never going to use the degree we just paid for? Put that money back into our children's education.

-- Posted by spmom on Wed, Feb 17, 2010, at 9:24 AM


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