EDITORIAL: Restore money cut from Indiana schools

2013-02-04T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Restore money cut from Indiana schools nwitimes.com
February 04, 2013 12:00 am

Policy decisions made, even with the best of intentions, should be scrapped when it becomes clear they aren't achieving -- and are possibly worsening -- the very thing they set out to fix.

This can be said of Indiana's decision in 2010 to cut $300 million a year in funding to the state's K-12 public schools. The decision was made to help balance the state's fiscal budget, with frugality and efficiency in mind -- all concepts that are hard to criticize in this budget-strapped era.

But since that decision, we have witnessed a flurry of local school districts clamoring for school referendums, asking voters to willingly increase their property taxes to pay for school operations.

This concept isn't all bad in principal. If school districts make a strong case and residents of a particular district believe extra funds are needed to sustain quality in their places of learning, referendums can be good tools to make it happen.

However, the impact of the $300 million in annual cuts has been so severely felt by local schools that the referendums have become commonplace.

The School Town of Munster announced recently it is considering such a referundum to raise town property taxes for funding.

Last May, voters in Chesterton's Duneland School Corp. approved a $39.9 million, seven-year referendum to offset funding deficits created by the state. In May 2011, Crown Point residents approved a $35 million referendum. And in November 2011, voters living within the boundaries of the Lake Central School Corp. approved a $160 million construction referendum to rebuild Lake Central High School and Protsman Elementary School.

Union Township and Hebron have approved referendum votes this year.

The process of running these special referendums is becoming an expense that should be unnecessary. The need to seek them because of state cuts also seems to contradict past promises by the state to assume the burden of supporting school operations. Through such referendums, the burden shifts back to the shoulders of property taxpayers.

Though the cuts may have been made to prompt more efficiency, they are having the opposite effect as individual school districts strike out on their own, hat in hand, for more money from property taxpayers.

We have long held that the school funding formula is unfair, broken and needs to be fixed to restore the funding so crucial to the educational success of our current and future generations.

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