Indiana State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett used Monday’s forum as a vehicle to promote a new set of educational standards and to address lingering concerns over school funding issues tied to a law which limits the amount districts are allowed to levy in property taxes.
According to MCCSC Superintendent J. T. Coopman, the tax caps have been particularly hard on districts which are not seeing the state funding necessary to make up for the loss of local revenue.
“We, as a school district, are in the bottom 18% in per pupil funding of all the schools in the state of Indiana, and so even though we can demonstrate need for additional personnel,” says Coopman, ” we’re not able to do so because we don’t have the money.”
Coopman says in his experience schools are some of the most efficient operations in the government, and that there is a limit to the amount that be cut from district budgets.
He says the MCCSC has tried to implement several of the suggestions Doctor Bennett made, but has encountered resistance from other state agencies.
“We tried to do some outsourcing, at the state’s urging,” Coopman says, ” and then we were told by a state agency that we couldn’t do it.”
School funding is a particularly sensitive issue in the Bloomington area, where cuts in state funding have resulted in the loss of about seventy classroom teachers.