Will neighborhood schools across Indiana soon owe money to big box retailers such as Lowe’s and CVS? Why don’t voucher school funds have their own line item in the state budget? Why do we need to renew our local referendum? “Our Public Schools: Valuable and At Risk” will seek to answer these questions with a panel presentation by local and state officials on Tuesday, October 13, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at Bloomington City Hall, 401 N. Morton St.
In Tuesday’s forum, panelists will present information about the overall funding environment for public schools in Indiana. Public schools are experiencing a perfect storm: the cut of $300 million from the annual budget under Mitch Daniels, exponential increases in charter schools and private school vouchers, the shift from property taxes to income taxes as a source of school funding, and a new funding formula that shifts money toward suburban schools at the expense of urban and rural ones. In addition, a recent ruling by the tax board encourages big box retailers and others to aggressively seek to limit the taxes they pay by undervaluing their properties.
Local communities must rely on referenda to fully fund education, keep class sizes humane, and guarantee diverse opportunities for students.