The final day of the short session is tomorrow, and the final version of House Bill 1315 is still up in the air.
However it comes out, it will still have to be approved by both the House and the Senate.
If you have not contacted your legislators about your opposition yet, give it one more shot tonight or Wednesday. It looks like it will be one of the last bills to be voted on Wednesday evening, the last night of the session.
Tell your legislators or any legislators:
Give the Gary public school district the dignity of having a school board like every other school district for the past 200 years, even while an emergency manager holds all the powers of the school board to correct mismanagement.
Tell them they must not pass a bill that takes down another pillar of public education. That pillar says:
Every public school district should be run by a school board of district residents.
Yet another pillar of public education in Indiana is in jeopardy.
The Meeting of the Conference Committee on HB 1315
Concerns about appointing non-resident school board members and losing the voice of citizens were clear themes in statements from legislators and those testifying at yesterday's (March 12th) Conference Committee meeting.
Representative Tim Brown, chair of the Conference Committee, allowed all members of the public to speak who wished to do so. Eight took advantage of the opportunity.
The testimony I gave is below.
This bill is not just about Muncie and Gary. It sets precedents for all Indiana public school districts. We need your participation!
If you have not done so already, contact your own House member and Senator or other legislators about House Bill 1315. The results of your work will be known tomorrow.
Thank you for actively supporting public education in Indiana!
Vic Smith firstname.lastname@example.org
Testimony on HB 1315
March 12, 2018
Given by Dr. Vic Smith, Indianapolis
We have had public schools in Indiana for a long time now, over 200 years. In all that time, one of the pillar principles we have followed in public education is that every public school district should be run by a school board made up of district residents.
In over 200 years, this enduring principle has never been challenged, until now. House Bill 1315 violates this principle in two ways:
Both of these problems could be repaired by this Conference Committee.
First on page 40, where it says two of the five school board members appointed "must reside within the boundaries of the Muncie Community school corporation district", you can amend that to say "all five."
Asking out-of-town or out-of-state school board members to set the annual property tax rates of local residents will lead to obvious legal and public relations problems. I am confident that when all these potential problems are duly reconsidered, the wisdom of the last 200 years will prevail and school board seats will be reserved for local residents.
Second on page 7, where the school board name is removed in Gary in favor of an advisory board, I urge you to give the citizens of Gary the dignity of having a school board, even during the time when an emergency manager holds all the power of the school board and will continue to do so under current law until the emergency manager recommends a return to local control. The name "school board" remains important, as it has for over 200 years.
I urge you to make these two changes in HB 1315 to prevent unraveling yet another pillar of public education in Indiana.