Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Letters to the Editor

March 9, 2014

READER POINT OF VEW: Concord schools fighting to maintain history of excellence

At Concord Community Schools, we’re all about kids.

As you probably already are aware, the corporation will be asking Concord voters for an additional $0.405 per $100 of assessed valuation during the May primary election. The impact for property taxpayers is an increase of about $132 per year for a home valued at $100,000. The term of the increase is no more than seven years. I have been meeting with groups large and small throughout the community for the past several months, explaining our needs.

While we are requesting more money in 2014 for the 2015-2016 school year, the funding problem actually dates back to 2008, when Indiana voters approved a constitutional amendment to place a cap on property taxes. The unintended consequence: Since that time, Concord schools has lost $10 million in property tax funding; we will lose an additional $4.2 million this year. Out of the Indiana’s 292 school districts, Concord ranks eighth in the percentage of lost local revenue statewide.

We have done our best to cut and save. At the same time, we have what we consider to be a good problem, but one that impacts the bottom line as well: Our enrollment has grown by about 600 students, or 12 percent of our school population, since the 2005-2006 school year. With a 68.2 percent projected loss in property tax funds for 2014, it is getting more and more difficult for us to find savings to bridge the gap.

School funding is complicated: The state pays tuition support per-pupil to the corporation for classroom instruction, but less than 10 percent of that funding supports obligations other than staffing. The remainder of school funding is paid for out of property taxes for transportation, bus replacement and capital projects (building improvements and maintenance, technology, utilities and emergencies).

Concord Community Schools has had to dip into our state funding to pay for property tax-supported needs. In other words, we’re using money set aside for teachers and classroom instruction to pay for building and bus maintenance and transportation costs, all while serving more students than ever before.

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Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

I think it’s a good idea to feed all the students free of charge
I think those who can afford it should pay for their school meals
I think all students should be required to pay for their school meals
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