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Schultz to address state legislators

BY HEATHER COX - hcox@chronicle-tribune.com

Assistant Superintendent for Business Affairs, Bob Schultz, addressed the Marion Community School board on Tuesday, informing them that he will be speaking at a hearing for an Indiana house bill that if passed, could ultimately limit how the school corporation uses $1.4 million.

House Bill 1003, written by representatives Dale DeVon and Todd Huston, would override a 2017 house bill, which just took effect as of Jan. 1, and require Indiana schools to change their budgets by transfering 20 percent of the education fund into the operations fund. 

However, the piece of legislation will not allow any more than 15 percent of revenue deposited in education funds to be transferred to operations funds.

All of this means that the operations fund – which is the fund that pays MCS custodians, maintenance people, insurance, utilities, fixes the buildings and repairs sidewalks and roofs – would lose $1.4 million.

This would be on top of property tax caps which took nearly 25 percent of the budget last year.

The first hearing for the bill takes place Wednesday. Schultz said he will ask that the bill is at least delayed.

Schultz added that though it is not required to abide by the 15 percent, there are punitive measures that will take place if the school corporation doesn’t follow suit.

An issue that Schultz raised is that no one has had the chance to see if the bill that just went into effect would even work before it is now potentially replaced. He said the state does not want to commit more dollars to education and teacher salaries but wants to force schools into spending money in certain ways.

“They’re taking away the local school board’s power to run the school corporation,” he said. “They’re gonna tell you how to spend your money.”

Another issue Schultz has is that MCS has older buildings, meaning the school corporation doesn’t have a lot of debt because they fix their buildings, so they need more money in operations than a lot of other schools do.

The teachers association for MCS also does not think the bill is a good idea, Schultz added.

“If our teachers’ salaries were lower compared to everybody else that would be a little bit more understandable, but they’re not. We have a nice starting teacher salary – the highest in our county and the highest in our area,” Schultz said. “Our teacher benefits are better than those around us. So we take care of our people, but we also have operations that need to be funded, but they’re going to handicap us if the bill goes out.”

In other news, new school board members, Bruce Weatherspoon and Alan Beck, were officially sworn in to join the board along with returnees Serafina Salamo and Dana Gault.

The board appointed Todd Nicholson as board president, Chuck Griffin as the first vice president, Serafina Salamo as the second vice president and Alan Beck as the board secretary.

Additionally, the board appointed Bob Schultz and Patty Naumann as the treasurer and deputy treasurer, respectively, and Tom Hunt for board attorney.

The next MCS board meeting is scheduled for Jan. 22.