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Panel Discusses Hoosier Education Crises

A panel today on Indiana University’s campus turned an eye to current educational concerns around the state. The panel agreed schools need to find cost savings, perhaps in the form of school district consolidation, transportation cuts and using the same personnel resources for multiple tasks. But even those moves wouldn’t erase uncertainty for some teachers.

Teacher Taji Gibson from Bloomington High School North said people shouldn’t focus on the short term affects, but rather think long term. “In the long term if we don’t have the referendum, it’s going to be less teachers and class sizes are going to go up.”

In the 2009-2010 school year Gibson was one of more than 70 educators in Monroe County who was laid off. Few received their jobs back and some educators advocate to the community for the upcoming referendum, which may keep teachers in the classrooms beyond this school year.

Gibson had 15 years of experience in another district and was able to obtain her job back, but she says her job is still uncertain next year. “We will lose more teachers next year if the referendum isn’t passed, and then the next year even more could lose their jobs, so it’s essential the community support this,” she said.

The State Board of Education will listen to plans for district reorganization proposed to be complete by 2013. Associate Director of the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy, Terry Spradlin said districts are in crises and the community should be concerned. “There are 19 school districts pursuing a referendum in November, 15 for a general fund increase and four for capital projects,” said Spradlin.

After Governor Mitch Daniels cut 300 million-dollars from the state’s public education budget, some districts have been forced to find multiple extra funding streams. “Historically the state’s been very generous in funding public education, but those increases have been much more modest recently and barely keeping up with the rate of inflation districts are really struggling to make ends meet,” said Spradlin.

Spradlin said the community should be concerned about adequate funding for public education and a referenda or a stop cap measure to help make ends meet temporarily for school districts.

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