It’s not easy to ask your friends and neighbors to dig a little deeper to support their school systems.

But that’s exactly what voters in Munster, East Chicago and Lake Station will be asked to do May 2.

Since 2008, Indiana schools no longer are financed locally but through a portion of the state sales tax.

So if schools want to raise an extra amount of money, they have to ask the voters to foot the bill through property taxes.

It’s not a terribly fair system for a number of reasons.

Munster is asking for an additional $6.9 million for each of seven years for its general fund and $48 million for a restoration fund.

East Chicago is seeking $41 million over seven years to support its general fund.

Lake Station wants $5.6 million over seven years for its general fund.

If I were a betting person — which we all are at times — I’d say Munster will approve its referendum, and the voters in East Chicago and Lake Station will defeat the requests for more money.

Munster is the most affluent community in Lake County, and its school system is a source of pride. It is the primary reason people move to Munster.

If Munster votes down the extra money, programs and teachers will have to be cut, and class sizes likely will increase — the very things that will send a school system spiraling.

East Chicago and Lake Station are among the least affluent communities in the county.

And those two school systems face the financial and social problems that are created in financially strapped communities.

East Chicago and Lake Station residents are less likely to approve raising their taxes because they already are having difficulty making ends meet.

If Lake Station and East Chicago defeat the referendums, the schools and the children will suffer, and the social cycle of deprivation will continue.

But this is how the state wants it. Sort of one of those one-size-fits-all deals. That’s not how it is in real life.

The system also makes me wonder why we elect school board members. Aren’t they the ones who should be making the tough decisions on school funding? And if the residents don’t like those decisions, I suspect they will vote out the board.

Then there are those who no longer have any children in the school system. That again would negatively impact the referendums in Lake Station and East Chicago.

The three corporations need the money for different reasons. I hope they get it despite the roadblocks thrown up by the state.

Rich James has been writing about state and local government and politics for more than 30 years. Email him at rjamescolumns@gmail.com. The opinions are the writer’s.

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