The Bloomington and Monroe County League of Women Voters hosted a public forum yesterday (Wednesday) in support of a ballot referendum which would allow the Monroe County Community School Corporation to increase their property tax levy. L-W-V moderator Linda Shanks opened the proceedings with a public endorsement of the measure. Panelist included MCCSC Comptroller Tim Thrasher, Bloomington Chamber of Commerce President Christy Gillenwater and area real estate agent Jeanne Walters.
Thrasher discussed the district’s financial status, emphasizing a comparatively low per pupil allowance. He also talked extensively about a recent law which shifts the burden of funding schools from the local property tax base to state sales taxes, arguing such a move destabilizes the district’s revenue stream, especially during uncertain economic times.
Chamber President Christy Gillenwater reiterated her organizations support for the referendum… and discussed the correlation between local business and schools. She pointed to what she described as extensive collaborations between various education programs and the local business community. Gillenwater also spent several minutes discussing the effects of increasing dropout rates on all levels of economic growth.
Real estate specialist Jeanne Walters was the only person not party to an organization which had officially endorsed the referendum. However, she verbally stated her support of the measure and anecdotally suggested that she knew of no one among her colleagues who opposed the ballot question. She discussed the relationship between property values and quality schools. She also pointed to innovations which allow potential residents to more easily evaluate an area’s quality of education prior to moving.
The last phase of the forum was devoted to a question and answer session in which local residents submitted inquiries to the moderator. The majority of questions were directed towards Comptroller Thrasher and involved either state level funding issues or potential cuts to specific MCCSC programs.
The entire proceeding was largely nonpartisan, with no clear party affiliation being discernible from either the questions or the responses. As of this time, no organization has come out in direct opposition to the passage of the referendum. However, the Bloomington Tea Party has circulated an email which questions the connection between school funding and academic performance.