Friday, May 9, 2014

Decatur Referendum - There Are Strings Attached

Now that Decatur Township voters approved a property tax increase to bail out the School District from its own flagrant fiscal mismanagement, there are a few things the District needs to do for the Community in return.

First, recognize that this tax increase will harm some very real people; maybe even, one of your neighbors.  We have a community of modest means.  Some of our elders already decide between spending on food and spending on medication.   The home they live in was purchased at a price far lower than the assessed value upon which the tax rate is applied.  We have families, with and without kids in school, that just make ends meet and have struggled to keep their home through the Great Recession.  We have renters in similar situations, whose rent will rise to accommodate the tax hike.

Remember their very real sacrifice each time you spend a penny of that new money.

Second, spend the new money only on the new circuit breaker impact coming next year.  That is what the community was told it was for.  Not raises, not all expense paid trips to extra conferences, not new carpeting - just the upcoming fiscal shortfall.  It would not be honorable to spend it in any other fashion than for the reason broadcast to the voters.

Third, counter the ill effect of our tax rate compared with our neighboring communities, by actually improving the education delivered to Decatur's children.  A "D" school system in a Township with a high tax rate will not attract the move up homes and the basic retail that we desperately need.  The least you can do is improve the education to a "B" District level, if not an "A".  The community deserves it.  More importantly, every child deserves it.  Even a child who earns all As is more challenged and learns more in an "A" district than in a "D" district.

I am impressed with Dr. Matt Prusiecki, the new Superintendent, and like some of the ideas he has shared with me; they are forward thinking and worth a try.   I trust Decatur school's CFO, Kirk Farmer, to be a good steward of our tax dollars.   So, it is possible, if these two are given the chance, to provide children with the education they deserve while keeping our fiscal house in order.

Fourth, don't expect this tax increase will be renewed in seven years.  Use every tool available to bring down the debt payment as quickly as possible.   State law allows refinancing for an extra 10 years, which will lower the principle and likely the rate as well.  It's not perfect, but the debt is overwhelming for a community our size.  Sell the extra real estate.   New state law demands that in 2015, our TIF district must get a sunset date applied to it.  It is possible the TIF could be gone before these seven years are up; in any case, the timing will be close.

Fifth, it is time to seat a new school board.  Three of the five seats are up for election in November.  It is time to sweep out those who voted for every debt increase and tax increase our community could not afford, who voted for every golden parachute, ungodly raise, and purchase of  unnecessary property.  It is high time to seat a new board who will honor the community's sacrifices.  It is time to seat a board who will stop the excuses and improve our school system


Anonymous said...

Well, there's a job posting for a new administrator position. Aren't you feeling optimistic? They're going to have to hire someone just to oversee all the college grads hired to replace people quitting and retiring early to get out of this broken district. Nothing has changed but the nameplates on the doors.

Had Enough Indy? said...

This new position sounds like the duties should already be handled.

I invite folks to read the job description. It looks like the majority of it is to align the goals of the schools with getting more kids ready for college or a career right out of high school.

I wonder what a 'Chief Academic Officer' does, if not this job.

I searched the site for 'leadership learning center' and it came back with '0 results'.

Does anyone know what/where that is?

Anonymous said...

Under Instructional Coaching there's a posting for a Lead Teacher. I'm wondering where the Decatur School for Excellence is. And that will make all the others Schools for....?

Had Enough Indy? said...

The Middle School has an opening for a Math Dept Head - you'd think a Dept Head would not have any free time for other things. You'd also think that the head Principal at the High School wouldn't have any extra time, even more than a Dept. Head.

I wish they'd roll back the crazy and confusing titles that Stinson invented.

Transparency is back - clarity would be a bonus.

Anonymous said...

I'm told that the School for Excellence is going to be the brand new HS that puts the old alternative school with the DDA. It's just another small learning community. We know from past experience that the alternative school helped save my child and in turn made him a much better person. Not only did he graduate but they helped him regain some self assurance and responsibility to go on to Ivy Tech and get a 2 year degree. That group of people deserve lots of respect and if they need something then we need to give it to them. They do a lot with less than most people at the other schools.

Anonymous said...

Chimera Academy?
May 13
Sect 4.09