Vigo County Residents are still deciding how to vote on referendum #2 this election.
The Vigo County School Corporation under the leadership of Superintendent Dr. Rob Haworth presented his proposal to the school board that lays out the cuts needed, assuming that the referendum will pass. If the referendum does not get a YES vote, even more cuts would need to be made to keep the school district out of the distress that forced the take over of Gary and Muncie community schools .
In 2009 a property tax cap was passed. This was brought on after years of wildly fluctuating property taxes. The cap of 1% of a homes assessed value allowed for more consistent tax bills,but took away local school funding sources. At the same time, the Indiana General Assembly stripped the property tax money from All schools operating budgets. This allowed for tax money to only be used for transportation and capital projects. Schools would receive all operational funding based on a per student basis. When the new funding took effect in 2010 and then a budget shortfall hit Gov. Mitch Daniels, cut $300 million from education to help fill in the gaps. Republicans felt that School districts needed to adjust their spending on a yearly basis, based upon student enrollment, according to one of the legislatures that championed the idea, Sen. Luke Kenley (R) from Noblesville.
The State of Indiana has a Distressed Unit Appeal Board that eventually may take school control away from local leaders and manage it for them when fiscal problem are not corrected.
A similar process was proposed by the Federal Judge in a lawsuit against the Vigo County Jail, were local leaders would have been taken out of the management process. Leaders passed referendendum to fund a bigger county jail, that met all the health, safety, recreational, and medical needs the federal court ruled mandatory.
The VCSC released its proposed spending cuts and revenue generating plan.
The spending cuts occur over a 3year/ 3 phase time frame and include some of the following key points.
PHASE ONE: $3,765,000 in combined savings/revenue
- Cut Top Central Office Administrators Compensation by 4.5%
- Reduce the superintendents compensation by $20,000
- Eliminate 4 administrator positions
- Booker T Washington will host all Alternative education programs
- McLean repurposed for IT, office space, for profit day care, or as determined by board.
- Eliminate take home cars
- Forego planned purchase of new truck/equipment
- Extend Bus replacement by one year
- District level Admin audit building energy and prepare report
- Reduce full time employee’s by $175,000 through retirement or resignation
- Reduce contract services by $150,000 and have in-house staff complete work
- Lock in fuel/gas prices
- Reduce paper usage by $30,000
- Improve procurement
- Ensure all Pre-K fees covered by Title I
- Save on bus routes $200,000
- Expand Vigo Virtual Success
PHASE TWO: $1,690,000 in savings
- Close 2 elementary schools
- Sell the Central Office Building and move it to a vacated space
PHASE THREE: $1,550,000 in savings
- Close another elementary school bringing the total to 15
- Relocate Covered Bridge to VCSC owed property
- Reduce another $100,000 in administrator salary
- Energy and paper reduction $ $55,000
- Procurement and transportation improvements $35,000
- Expand International Residency Program to bring in $400,000 in revenue
- Expand Virtual School to bring in additional $100,000
The Vigo County School Corporation has laid out its proposal for the School Board to approve. It is not clear at this time what the school board has been doing in the past when approving budgets and looking at declining student populations.
The current Vigo county superintendent has been in the position for just over 1 year. He has held 18 school based meetings and 33 community meetings to try and develope a solution to Vigo county schools financial problems.