Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

March 13, 2014

Schools criticize state tax proposal

By Boris Ladwig Daily News
Greensburg Daily News

---- — GREENSBURG – Greensburg school officials on Tuesday rebuked state legislators for a business tax cut proposal that would reduce the school corporation’s revenues by up to $300,000.

At the urging of Gov. Mike Pence, state legislators since late last year have discussed the elimination or a reduction of the property tax that businesses pay on machinery. A repeal of the tax would lower revenues of local governmental units, including cities, counties and schools, by about $1 billion statewide.

The Greensburg Community Schools’ board unanimously adopted a resolution that said the cuts would “hurt families and jeopardize our children’s educational opportunities.” The resolution asked that legislators find a way to replace the $1 billion if they vote to repeal the tax.

Superintendent Tom Hunter, who had asked board members to sign the resolution, also told board members that the school corporation is projected to see its revenues cut by about $225,000 this year because of state tax caps. The state in 2008 limited the amount of taxes paid by people who own property in Indiana. Taxes for homeowners, for example, were capped at 1 percent of assessed valuation. That means owners of a home assessed at $100,000 can pay no more than $1,000 in annual property taxes.

Hunter said Tuesday that because of the tax caps, local schools would receive $225,000 less in revenue this year. Last year’s loss was less than $200,000.

“We’re seeing more and more damage every year,” Hunter said.

According to the resolution that the school board adopted, Greensburg Community Schools have seen their funding fall by about $4 million since 2009.

Fiscal constraints also will require the schools to make some staffing changes before the next school year. Hunter said that schools will not replace all of the five people who are retiring or have retired this year. Schools will have to cut staff to bring revenues in line with expenditures, he said. Hunter planned to provide the school board with more details at the next meeting.

Hunter also told the board members that construction crews are making good progress on the $2 million addition to the high school, which will house the corporation’s upgraded vocational training area. The addition, with the help of local employers and a state initiative, will create a pipeline for students to start early on careers in advanced manufacturing.

Director of Maintenance Tim Kane presented board members with a wish list of projects that he hopes to tackle soon. The list included new sidewalks and the floors of some stages, which, Kane said, have some boards missing.

Kane also said that the maintenance crews will have to take a close look at the damage the harsh winter wrought on school parking lots.

“We really don’t know what the extent of this is,” he said.

Director of Technology Scott Hershauer told board members that some of the school’s servers, the central computers that serve the other computers throughout the schools, need to be updated. Also, he said, he is still trying to determine what kind of computer equipment will be needed in the new vocational area, though it likely will be equipped with laptops and a wireless connection.

Director of Curriculum Tammy Williams told board members that she has received lots of positive feedback from teachers and students about the use of tablets in some classrooms, a pilot program that ultimately will equip all 2,300 students with such devices over the next three years to better prepare children for the high-tech jobs of the future.

The board next will meet at 7:30 p.m. April 8.

Contact: Boris Ladwig 812-663-3111 x7401; boris.ladwig@greensburgdailynews.com