The West Central School Board members spent some time discussing items that came out of this year’s legislature. One topic of discussion was funding.
Superintendent Charles Mellon noted that the way the increase of public school funding has been relayed to the public is quite deceiving. The two percent increase in the funding formula is correct, but he says there is a misconception that every school corporation in the state is getting a two percent increase.
“West Central received a 0.3 percent increase, which is about $16,000” said Mellon. “We’ll try not to spend that all at one time. The second year was even less in a 0.1 percent increase.”
The two percent increase for all schools amounts to about $290 million.
Mellon said it’s disappointing that a two percent increase could not be realized for both years in the biennium budget.
He’s also frustrated the the legislature didn’t help public school funding in approving a forgiveness fund for charter schools. Mellon explains that when a charter school opens they take a common school fund loan. If that charter school fails or did not open for a second year, the legislature approved a measure to give a $91 million forgiveness to those charter schools.
“That is money that could have come our way if that forgiveness didn’t take place,” Mellon said. “When these charter schools are set up they have a sponsor. I guess I was under the assumption that that sponsor would take on some of the challenge of making it financially successful and take on the risk if it’s not successful. Then they would have a bill to pay rather than the taxpayers of Indiana putting in $91 million back into the common school fund. With all of those things combined, we don’t see that public education got near the boost that is being projected there.”
To impact that, charter school vouchers were increased to $4,800 for the second year of the budget.
In 2010, public schools lost $327 million and that affected school budgets for two years. In that two-year period, Mellon stated that the West Central School Corporation lost $700,000.
“It gets frustrating when we’re asked to go more and receive less money to do it,” Mellon said.
Mellon added that there is one thing that was positive for the corporation. The corporation will still be allowed to pay utilities and property insurance out of the Capital Projects Fund.