In January of 2009, the State of Indiana took over the distribution of tax monies collected at both the state and local levels to fund General Funds using a formula devised at the state level. The changes have left many schools, including Plymouth, questioning the fairness of the process.
The board plans to forwarded the resolution to the State for further consideration which states the following: “The Board finds the funding inequities grossly unfair; denying students of equal opportunities and placing undue economic stress on employees of the under funded school districts in Indiana. The Board finds it in the best interest of the students that the state legislature works quickly to resolve school funding inequities and treat each student more equally.”
Also included in the resolution was the following: “The revenue streams into public schools were more equally divided between state and local dollars in the past and are now more totally dependant on state money. The funding formula as per the State Tuition Support Worksheet is complicated and difficult, at best, to explain.”
The level of state funding to the school corporations ranges from $4,800 to $12,000 per student. The average tuition support per student for non-charter schools is $5,724 the average tuition support per student for charter schools is $6,637.
Plymouth School Superintendent Daniel Tyree shared his concerns with the board saying,
“Plymouth School Corporation is very concerned about the Indiana Department of Education’s proposed voucher system that sends tuition tax dollars to private schools. We have a great relationship with St. Michael’s school and want to maintain that relationship. However, the economic impact of the proposed voucher system is detrimental the economic development for North Central Indiana. Private schools account for 9% of the students presently enrolled in K-12 public education. To pass legislation that would give state tuition dollars to private school students would be an immediate 9% decrease to all public schools. If you examine the flow of those dollars, 20% of students presently enrolled in private schools are inside Marion County. That means one dollar for every five dollars taxed will go to school in Indianapolis and Marion County. Additionally, schools in Indianapolis and Marion County are already receiving over twice the per student tuition dollars that is spent per student in PCSC. Presently, Plymouth is funded approximately $5,500 per student while Indianapolis Public School are funded at $12,000 per student.”
Tyree said he has met with Ed Charbonneau, Indiana State Senator, and Nancy Dembowski, Indiana State Representative, already to share the concerns of the local board.
Other school corporations have taken more drastic measures. Among those filing a lawsuit against the state in February of 2010 were Hamilton Southeastern Schools, Franklin Township Community School Corporation and Middlebury Community Schools. They are contending that the state’s school funding formula lacks uniformity, is unconstitutional and is negatively affecting children in school corporations across the state. In October of 2010, Hamilton County Superior Court #1 Judge Steven Nation denied the State defendant’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The defendants in the case include Governor Mitch Daniels, State Superintendent of Public Instruction and Chairman of the State Board of Education Tony Bennett, the Indiana State Board of Education and the State of Indiana.
Carol Anders Correspondent