Budget cuts to school corporations around the state may mean as many as seven thousand layoffs before students return for classes in the fall. One budget cut made by the Monroe County Community School Corporation takes away teacher stipends for overseeing an extracurricular activity.
The Bloomington community has begun a push to replenish the lost wages. “In June we learned that we had a new challenge in that all 400 extracurricular positions in the Monroe County School district had lost funding for the budget in the next school year” says Executive Director Foundation of the Monroe County Community Schools.
When Governor Mitch Daniels cut $300 million dollars from the state’s public education budget earlier this year, school corporations began searching for ways to stay in the black. “The foundation added $750,000 to our goal we’ve been working pretty diligently to raise the full amount,” says Peterson.
The MCCSC decided to nix the stipends awarded to teachers who oversee the district’s extra-curricular activities – a decision which didn’t sit well with coaches or with leaders trying to raise money to offset cuts.
Community members have also given their time, such as IU, Head Basketball Coach Tom Crean, “We have to make sure that our coaches and teachers, who teach our young people whether, drama, music, theater, sports and all the different things that go into it.” Crean says the stipend is an incentive, as well as an enthusiasm and passion. “It’s not a reward, and it’s unfortunate that things like this happen in society,” says Crean.
Bloomington High School South football coach Kirk Kennedy is about the begin his first year working for the MCCSC, after building a strong football program at Lowell High School, in Lake County. Kennedy says he realizes the pay cut may affect his assistant coaches more than it affects him. “Many people obviously rely on the stipend as part of their salary and income. It’s going to change some lifestyles,” says Kennedy. Kennedy points out that some staff members may opt to take on other jobs, and not receiving the stipend will affect some more than others.
And students are worried, too. Bloomington South senior offensive lineman Reilly Flynn has been playing football since he was in the first grade. Though he says he still plans to play for the Panthers this season, Flynn says he’s concerned the budget cuts could, indirectly, hold-up scholarship offers from the universities he hopes to attend. “My dad tells me my job is to get a scholarship, because it would be a huge relief on my family,” says Reilly Flynn.
Reilly is the oldest of five children and his parents – Rita and Mike – say they’re more concerned about the educational future of the next four Flynn kids. “We just keep our fingers crossed and hope that somehow this is all going to work out and they will find the funding for all of it,” says Rita Flynn.
Mike Flynn concurs with his wife. “I think in the long run it could actually be a lesson for the kids who are on the team, they can learn that as a group how to work together to push through an unfortunate situation, and come out on the other side better for it.”
The Monroe County Council has approved a request from the MCCSC to place a referendum on November’s ballot which seeks to close a $7.5 million dollar hole in the corporation’s budget. Currently, the MCCSC’s extra-curricular funding campaign has raised less than half of the final goal.