Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Decatur School Board to Meet Tonight - Be Afraid Taxpayers

Brace yourselves Decaturites. The Decatur School Board meets tonight. They will meet in Executive Session behind closed doors beginning at 5:00 pm, followed by their regularly scheduled monthly meeting at 7:00 pm. The Executive Session is advertised as being for the purpose of discussing "a job performance evaluation of an individual employee". By law, that is all they are supposed to discuss for that hour and a half. Word is that the regular meeting will be moved to the High School Cafeteria as they expect a large crowd. If you are going, enter at Door 10 on the southwest corner of the High School Building.

On the agenda, which never lists action items, Patron Comments precede the discussion of Superintendent Stinson's proposal for changes to District finances and structure. Of course, this order of business limits the ability of community members to make cogent remarks as they cannot be sure what proposal will be put forth by the Superintendent. But, this is the usual course of things. If you plan to attend and make comments, be sure you sign up to do so as I understand the Board members can get rather snippy if you get out of line and do not sign up to speak.

If the School Board was truly interested in the community's opinion on these matters, they would let Superintendent Stinson announce the favored proposal and then give the community a month, a week, or even a day, to read about it and formulate their comments before the Board voted on the proposal. But, I'm guessing they will just vote on it tonight and not avail the community of the details before then.

Tonight's meeting is perfectly time for placing a referendum question on the May 4 Primary Election ballot. To place a referendum question on the ballot, the exact wording of the question must first be voted on by the School Board and then sent on to the City-County Council for certification at least 60 days prior to Election Day. For this timeline to work, the Council must act on the certification at its February 22 meeting and therefore introduce the issue at its February 1 meeting, which is the next meeting on their calendar, having just met last night. This is the last meeting of the School Board prior to February 1.

Any referendum question would ask the voters to approve an increase in property taxes to cover the financial mess Superintendent Don Stinson, Assistant Superintendent Jeff Baer, and the rubber stamping School Board members, Dale Henson, Don Huffman, Cathy Wiseman, and Judy Collins have gotten us into. Board member Doug Greenwald is getting a pass from me as he only joined the Board in July of 2008 and to my knowledge his only aggravating vote was on Don Stinson's extravagant contract that propelled him to the second highest paid Superintendent in Central Indiana and likely the entire State of Indiana.

Again, the School Board likely will not give the community any time to consider and comment on a referendum question being placed on the ballot. Likely they will haul out those trusty rubber stamps and just vote on it tonight.

Methinks a referendum has been the true aim of much of the work on enrollment and hand wringing over the finances, because anyone could see this coming ever since the property tax caps passed the Indiana Legislature in 2008. They'll close Lynwood Elementary School and lay off teachers. This will tick off the teachers. They'll change the remaining Elementary Schools and the Intermediate School to Grade 1-6 schools, increasing class size when absorbing the Lynwood students. This will tick off the teachers and any parent who realizes it will negatively impact the quality of education their children get in Decatur. They will allow any child to attend any Elementary School making transportation to and from school a nightmare -- they may even require parents to do most of the transporting or pay a huge fee for the school bus service. This will tick off the bus drivers, the parents and the kids. They will instigate fees for kids to participate in sports. This will tick of the parents and the kids. Meanwhile they will eliminate Candice Baer's position in the Central Office as a token loss in the Central Office ranks, even though she is already said to be leaving due to the acquisition of a new job elsewhere. The Central Office will be moved to the palatial and spacious digs over at the old Concentra Building. The Administrators will NOT be ticked off -- they will be even better off.

All of this ticking off of people will increase the chances of passage of the referendum. Passage of a referendum would sink Decatur Township's hopes of coming out of the recession along with the rest of Marion County and will sink the Township's hopes for move up housing and business location in our community for decades to come. Not that Don Stinson really cares about any of that.

I expect the Mooresville-Decatur Times will cover the meeting. If so, look for an article in either Wednesday's edition (which would be a very tight deadline for them) or in Saturday's edition of the paper. The online edition is password protected and available only to those who have subscriptions. So, be sure to pick up a copy and see what the proposal was and how the meeting went.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Its not the tax payer false that they went over budget,they need to start with there pay checks, but the chief operating officer is still spenting taxpayer money to put a fence behind the houses on dollar run ln. where the money coming from to maintain land they didnt maintain and will have to now or they say.Some of the property owner were doing it for free