BOONE GROVE | Porter Township Schools Superintendent Stacey Schmidt provided an “educational moment” at the district’s board meeting Thursday night.
Schmidt said that discussing school funding can be “overwhelming,” so she intends to provide segments of information at each board meeting to help members and the public better understand the issue.
Schmidt said Boone Grove schools received about $5,700 per student from the state in the 2011-12 school year, compared with a state average of $6,473 per student. Schmidt said the district expects to receive $5,045 per student in the current school year.
“Obviously that is a loss in revenue,” Schmidt said. “We’re funded pretty low compared to other districts in the state, and that creates some challenges that you had to face even before I came on here.”
Schmidt said that the district has implemented a number of cost-cutting strategies, mainly in the area of salary freezes and reductions. She said that classified staff members haven’t had a pay raise since 2009 and most teachers and administrators experienced a 1 percent reduction in salaries in the 2010-11 and 2012-13 school years.
“Teachers have given to help us make our ends meet,” Schmidt said.
She said the district spent about $5.3 million on salaries in the 2011-12 school year and will spend $5.14 million in the current school year.
The board approved Phase 2C of school improvements and authorized The Skillman Corp. and Schmidt and Associates to complete the work. Advertising for bids for Phase 2C of school construction also was approved.
“I feel Skillman Corp. has done a fantastic job over the last two projects,” said Bryan Busse, district facilities manager.
The board approved donations of $300 from the BP Fabric of America Fund to the Student Athletic Advisory Committee, $325 to Boone Grove Middle School, and $2,000 from the Indianapolis Colts for the Athletic Department as a result of the Colts' recognizing head football coach Tony Tinkel as a Coach of the Week last season.
Schmidt thanked the school principals and county law enforcement officials in light of the recent school shootings in Connecticut.
“After an unthinkable event last week, any school in our country is looking at safety,” Schmidt said. “We’re checking and rechecking our plans and thinking what more can we do. Our principals have been absolutely phenomenal in visiting with me and helping to calm fears and anxieties of students and parents.
“We have drills regularly that address all sorts of safety issues,” Schmidt said. “We have safety specialists on staff that have been trained this year, and we’re going to bring a safety expert around to walk our buildings to see if they see things we don’t see. This stays at the forefront of our mind.”