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Education And State Budget Cuts

Severe funding cuts are forcing school officials to take creative measures in an effort to balance their budgets. Superintendents from Brown, Bartholomew, and Monroe Counties hashed over their plans on this week’s Noon Edition. J.T. Coopman, Monroe County Community School Corporation superintendent, said the biggest hit is directed right at the schools’ general fund, which Coopman said is used almost entirely to pay staff.  Coopman said Monroe County schools received about $5.8-million less than they expected and said some of that comes from a faulty state funding formula–a formula so faulty in fact that three Hoosier school districts are suing the state alleging the formula’s practices are unconstitutional and Coopman said he would certainly consider joining in the suit although he said a similar suit filed in the early 90s showed  suing the state may have a minimal effect.

“We were promised by the legislators, if they make some amendments to the funding formula, would you drop your lawsuit. With that being understood the lawsuit was dropped and not a lot  amendments were done with the funding formula,” Coopman said.

Some state leaders contend, however, that more money won’t solve the school’s problems and while Bartholomew County Superintendent John Quick said he agrees throwing money at a problem doesn’t always solve it, he argues providing students with quality programing and instructors isn’t done for free.

“To reduce the student-teacher ratio by one student across my district with 11,500 kids it takes (an additional) one-million dollars,” Quick said.

Quick also pointed to the higher cost paid by his district to keep veteran teachers compared with faster growing schools that consistently make new highers.

Other options available for school funding include a referendum that could raise property taxes and earmark them for school building, something Coopman said he is considering. But Coopman warns this is just the begining of the cuts that’ll have to be made.

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