INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
State lawmakers have given a temporary break to more than 90 Indiana school
districts facing transportation funding cuts that threaten their bus
A measure signed
into law last week by Gov. Mike Pence gives a three-year reprieve to
districts expected to lose more than 10 percent of their property tax funds
- some $112 million statewide - under a protected levy law passed in 2012.
provisions take effect in July and come as schools are already struggling
with funding losses from property tax caps that have reduced money coming
into districts for transportation and capital maintenance, The Journal
The 2012 measure
diverts money from school districts’ transportation, bus replacement and
capital funds to pay off debt.
A few Indiana
school districts were set to lose all of the money in their transportation,
bus replacement and capital funds because of that law, said Dennis
Costerison, executive director of the Indiana Association of School Business
Many more districts
would be affected because of school-construction debts and drops in
communities’ assessed value, he said. Reduced revenue as homeowners in the
district hit 1 percent property tax caps will add to the problem.
Because the tax
caps can’t easily be changed since they are in the state constitution,
lawmakers decided to instead give more than 90 districts three more years to
brace for the funding cuts.
that Northwest Allen County Schools would have lost nearly half of those
property tax funds, but that loss is down to 14.2 percent, saving the
district about $2 million under the measure.
Superintendent Chris Himsel said that despite lawmakers’ help “at some point
we’re not going to have enough to pay for transportation.”
“This kicks the
problem down the road two to three or four years. We need some long-term
relief,” Himsel told The Journal Gazette.
He said his
district was a victim of significant enrollment growth not long before the
property tax caps were put into place.
County Schools would have lost more than 20 percent in those property tax
funds, but that loss is now down to 10 percent, saving the district about
Superintendent Steve Yager said the district is on pace to get out of debt
“We just have to
make it through a few years by tightening our belt and staying
conservative,” he said. “We’re OK for now.”