House Bill 1367 might not come close to offsetting the state funding cuts to
schools, but Duneland teachers and administrators are nonetheless supporting
the legislation for the flexibility it offers to schools.
On Tuesday, 11 Duneland teachers traveled to the Indiana Statehouse as part
of the Indiana State Teachers Association legislative lobbying day. About
250 teachers statewide joined in the effort.
Public schools throughout Indiana are facing funding cuts of nearly $300
million in state tuition support. The funding affects the school general
funds, which pay for staff and other operating costs.
While the teachers were at the Indiana House, they saw H.B. 1367 pass along
party lines, with 51 Democrats voting yes and 48 Republicans voting no.
Authored by State Rep. Gregory Porter, D-Indianapolis, the bill would allow
school corporations to use up to 5 percent of their Capital Projects Fund
for operating costs. A school CPF is funded by local property taxes and is
largely limited to capital expenses, such as new school roofs or parking lot
repairs. The bill would free up how the CPFs could be used.
DTA Co-President Michele Bartels said it appears that H.B. 1367 is the best
bill pending this session that deals with school finances.
“This gives (schools) more options without the state having to come up with
more funding,” she said.
She noted that the bill would not increase funding for schools, but rather
allow schools to transfer funds out of an existing account in order to pay
for salaries or other operating expenses.
Local property taxes used to help fund school operating costs, but beginning
last year, the state assumed these costs.
Duneland School Superintendent Dirk Baer said he also supports the bill, but
noted that it isn’t entirely a solution to school funding problems --
especially since the Capital Projects Fund might not have money to spare.
In the case of Duneland, Baer said the school corporation will have to cut
about $1.6 million from its advertised CPF for 2010. He said Duneland fully
expected a cut, though the amount was higher than anticipated.
Still, he said H.B. 1367 “certainly will be helpful” and that it gives local
school corporations flexibility.
Bartels said teachers have been contacting lawmakers urging relief for
schools, and that she feels the phone calls and emails have been helpful. In
the case of H.B. 1367, Bartels said she is hopeful that some Republicans who
initially voted no will change their vote when and if the bill comes up
again. The bill now moves to the Senate, and if the bill passes there with
changes, the differences would be reconciled and the bill would come back
for a vote in both chambers.
The Duneland teachers who attended the legislative lobbying day were Marie
Englehart of Brummitt, Susan Calkusic of Jackson Elementary, Colin May of
Liberty Elementary, Connie Hamilton and Martha Kearney of Yost, Cheryl
Muller and Bill Gustin of Westchester Intermediate, Jodi Nix of Chesterton
Middle, and Bartels, Kirsten Renehan and Jane Holmgren of Chesterton High
The teachers met with State Senators Karen Tallian, D-Ogden Dunes, Ed
Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, Jim Arnold, D-Michigan City, and State
Representatives Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso, Tom Dermody, R-LaPorte, and Scott
Pelath, D-Michigan City.
Bartels said Duneland teachers were also pleased to see that H.B. 1134
passed. The bill, also authored by Porter, would block a current state
effort to base teacher evaluations on student scores.