Monday, February 22, 2010

Politics that Hurt Kids

Amidst all of the calls for improving student achievement and teacher quality we get more cuts that will further impact struggling schools.  Do More with Less seems to be the mantra.  Note that those schools with the highest needs (read urban schools) will be hurt the most, yet again.  We need to remember these disastrous years for Indiana education come election time.

Educators: Only cuts left are ones that will hurt kids
Indiana schools are struggling to trim budgets 4.5 percent

By Andy Gammill, INDY STAR
Posted: February 22, 2010

Even for schools accustomed to cutting their budgets, this year may go down as the most brutal.  Districts have gone far beyond snipping the easy things, such as travel budgets and training costs, and moved on to job cuts, school closures and just about everything else.
The Indiana State Teachers Association estimates that 4,500 school jobs will be lost based on what districts have said. At least five districts in Indianapolis are considering closing schools or already have closed them.
Decatur Township Schools is cuttingathletic coaches and paring extracurricular activities. Mt. Vernon Schools has ceased printing newsletters and stopped hiring substitute teachers. Franklin Township Schools will charge fees to play sports or ride the bus.
After state tax revenues came in below what was anticipated, Gov.Mitch Daniels erased an expected increase in school funding from last year and ordered even deeper cuts. The result: Each district in the state must cut 4.5 percent from what it had planned to spend this year in its operating budgets.  Educators are warning that the cuts will have an impact on children and communities. In most districts, the costs of salaries and benefits make up 80 percent to 90 percent of that operating budget.
"The potential is pretty devastating when you look at the state as a whole," said Nate Schnellenberger, president of the Indiana State Teachers Association. "It would eliminate a lot of non-core programs that are valuable to students -- art, band, journalism. It could change things for years to come."  Many districts are turning off the lights to try to save a little on electricity, and in several, administrators are taking pay cuts.
Dennis Costerison, director of the Indiana Association of School Business Officials, said those districts that had already been losing funding are the worst off.  "We have districts right now having to make these tough, nightmarish types of decisions," he said. "Others are able to make it through for another year. If things don't improve, they'll be in those situations."



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