Monday, October 27, 2014

Vic’s Election Notes on Education #23– October 27, 2014

Dear Friends,

A 1% increase in funding.

That’s all.

That’s all that public schools were given for the current school year, 2014-15.

That is less than the cost of living, which was 1.6% in testimony given by economists to the General Assembly at the time the budget was set. More recently, Social Security said the cost of living was 1.7%.

Members of the General Assembly voted a paltry 1% increase in funding for the current school year for the public schools of Indiana. Public schools budgets are hurting; programs that help students have had to be cut in nearly every district.

Unlike during the Great Recession, there was no revenue shortfall when they set the budget. Lawmakers were given projections of a surplus of nearly $2 billion. They just didn’t want to make public school funding a priority.

Now state lawmakers want voters to confirm their stinginess to the one million plus public school students and re-elect them to the House and to the Senate.

This inadequate 2013 public school budget passed with all 69 Republicans and 1 Democrat in the House voting yes; 30 Democrats voted no. In the Senate, the budget passed with all 37 Republicans and 2 Democrats voting yes. The other 11 Democrats voted no.

Will the voters approve of this kind of treatment for our public school students?

[Please note: Indiana Code 3-14-1-17 says that government employees including public school employees may not “use the property of the employee’s government employer to” support the “election or defeat of a candidate” and may not distribute this message “on the government employer’s real property during regular working hours.” Ironically, the law does not prevent private school employees from using computers purchased with public voucher money to distribute campaign materials. Private schools now financed in part by public voucher dollars have retained all rights under Indiana’s voucher laws to engage in partisan political campaigns.]

Candidates Who Will Better Support Public Education are On the Ballot

In 51 House races and 15 Senate races, voters have an advocate for public education running who would put a higher priority on public education than found in the 2013 budget. Please see “Vic’s Election Notes on Education #21 and #22” for their names. If you need another copy, just email me.

Your work in the next week for pro-public education candidates in the Indiana Senate and the Indiana House will shape the future of public education in Indiana.

Year by Year Budget Increases: Decide for Yourself If We Need New Legislators Who Will Do Better!

The numbers below are not numbers that I calculated. These are the percentages printed for the General Assembly in the School Funding Formula. I took the percentages right off the summary page of the funding formula documents which I have held in my hand in the 18 years that I have been watching the General Assembly.

They show the downward trend from good times to recession, but when the Great Recession ended and the state had a revenue surplus once again in the most recent 2013 session, lawmakers chose not to restore public school funding to normal levels. Prior to the Great Recession, increases ranged from 2.4% to 4.7%. In the 2013 session, public school funding was degraded to 2% in 2013-14 and only 1% in 2014-15, the current school year.

Only 1%! Less than the cost of living. It is no wonder school districts are having financial problems and teacher salaries have stagnated.

This was a choice by the legislators in charge. Voters need to respond in the only way they can: Elect new members who favor higher funding for public school students. Check out the data:

YEAR.................................TOTAL FUNDING (School Funding Formula Summary Page)

1999 BUDGET:
FY 2000...........................................................+4.7%
FY 2001...........................................................+4.7%

2001 BUDGET:
FY 2002...........................................................+3.5%
FY 2003...........................................................+3.5%

2003 BUDGET:
FY 2004...........................................................+3.3%
FY 2005...........................................................+2.9% ($5.87 Billion)

2005 BUDGET:
FY 2006...........................................................+2.6% ($5.94 Billion)
FY 2007...........................................................+2.4% ($6.02 Billion)

2007 BUDGET:
FY 2008...........................................................+4.1% ($6.27 Billion)
FY 2009...........................................................+3.6% ($6.48 Billion)*

2009 BUDGET: (June 2009 during the Great Recession)
FY 2010...........................................................+1.1% ($6.55 Billion)**
FY 2011...........................................................+0.3% ($6.57 Billion)**

2011 BUDGET: (April 2011 during the Great Recession)
FY 2012...........................................................[actual] -4.5% ($6.28 Billion)
.........................................................................[printed] +0.5% [due to reduced base]
FY 2013...........................................................+1.0% ($6.34 Billion)***

2013 BUDGET:
FY 2014...........................................................+2.0% ($6.62 Billion)
FY 2015...........................................................+1.0% ($6.69 Billion)

Footnotes:

*included Federal stimulus/stabilization funding of $.61 Billion

**reduced by $.30 Billion in Dec. 2009 due to revenue shortfall and by $.327 Billion during 2010-11

***adding the full day kindergarten line item to the formula during the 2013 General Assembly raised the actual FY2013 base expenditures to $6.49B.
__________________________________________________________

The Grand Competitive Marketplace of Schools

Led by Gov. Daniels, Gov. Pence, Speaker Bosma, President Pro Tem Long and Representative Behning, Indiana passed a voucher program which was supposed to create a grand marketplace of public and private schools for parent choice. By underfunding the public schools, these leaders gave the edge in the competition to private schools which market themselves as having low class sizes. Parents love small class sizes.

Public schools would love to offer low class sizes as well, but when state money dries up, public schools have had no choice but to put more students in each classroom. When public testimony was taken on the voucher expansion bill, HB 1003, the most frequent comment by voucher supporters was that their private school had low class sizes. Of course, private schools can limit enrollment and raise tuition to control their budgets and class sizes. Public schools admit all who show up at the door and depend on the legislature for proper funding.

Favoritism was clear in awarding budget increases. While public schools got a 1% increase this year, private school vouchers got double that amount: 2%. For the current school year (2014-15), vouchers were lifted from $4700 to $4800, a 2% increase and a higher per pupil amount than many school districts get in the funding formula. Last year, in 2013-14, while public schools got a 2% increase, vouchers got a 4% increase, going from $4500 to $4700.

Representative Behning, who wrangled with the Senate to win these voucher increases, started out asking for a 22% increase, from $4500 to $5500 for 2013-14, and an 18% increase for the current year, from $5500 to $6500 for 2014-15. This tells you how he would like to raise payments for private school vouchers if he has his way.

For Representative Behning and many others in the General Assembly, the priority is on helping private schools and not public schools. This is a fundamental problem that only the voters can change by electing new voices that support public schools. Representative Behning’s opponent in House District 91 Patrick Lockhart will do a much better job in funding education. Help him if you can!

The legislators let public schools down in the 2013 budget. Candidates who would do better in funding public education are available in 51 House races and 15 Senate races. Your strong support of one or two of these 66 candidates will make a huge difference for public school students in the next two years.

Just today I heard the first radio ad for Cindy Kirchhofer, the incumbent running in House District 89. In this final week before the election, radio and TV ads for those who feel they might be in trouble with the voters have begun. Voters must be wary of misleading ads! The ad said Cindy Kirchhofer has voted to invest in education.

Well, not much! Only 1%! An historically low increase.

Her opponent Debra Jenkins will do a much better job in funding public education. Help her if you can! Or help one of the other candidates standing up for public education. Word of mouth before November 4th among friends, family and colleagues will make the difference. Do it for the one million public education students all over Indiana who deserve better support.

Thanks for working to support public education!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith vic790@aol.com

There is no link between “Vic’s Election Notes on Education” and any organization. Please contact me at vic790@aol.com to add an email address or to remove an address from the distribution list.

Some readers have asked about my background in Indiana public schools. Thanks for asking! Here is a brief bio:
I am a lifelong Hoosier and began teaching in 1969. I served as a social studies teacher, curriculum developer, state research and evaluation consultant, state social studies consultant, district social studies supervisor, assistant principal, principal, educational association staff member, and adjunct university professor. I worked for Garrett-Keyser-Butler Schools, the Indiana University Social Studies Development Center, the Indiana Department of Education, the Indianapolis Public Schools, IUPUI, and the Indiana Urban Schools Association, from which I retired as Associate Director in 2009. I hold three degrees: B.A. in Ed., Ball State University, 1969; M.S. in Ed., Indiana University, 1972; and Ed.D., Indiana University, 1977, along with a Teacher’s Life License and a Superintendent’s License, 1998.

###

No comments:

Post a Comment