Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Carmel Clay Schools Weigh in on Budget Debate

Readers outside Indiana may not be aware that our General Assembly did not pass a budget this spring and will, therefore, be called back for a special session by Gov. Mitch Daniels. Numerous rumors and issues are swirling around the budget debate (everything from fears of a government shutdown to strong-arm techniques to force through government consolidation or property tax caps; everything from education to welfare and the broke Capital Improvements Board [which manages Indianapolis' sports venues] appear to be on the table). Even with all that in mind, I was somewhat stunned by the email that I received today from the public school system that my kids attend (which is probably the best-funded school system with the best schools in the state), especially given that the school district is in a very heavily Republican district:

May 27, 2009

Dear Parents and Staff,

Carmel Clay Schools needs your help to maintain the quality of education this community expects and deserves. By contacting our Governor and legislators, you can influence critical budget decisions in the upcoming special session that will dramatically affect our schools. A short explanation of the current budget issues follows, along with contact information for your convenience.

The Carmel Clay School Board has approved spending cuts in excess of $1.5 million. Previous to these reductions, approximately $300,000 was cut from the budget. Unless the General Assembly and Governor provide adequate funding, we will see additional cuts in programs and services. Because such a large percentage of our budget is for professional staff, these cuts will result in the loss of valuable programs and increases in class size. A provision in the proposed funding formula takes away our ability to use the capital projects fund for paying utilities and insurance as has been allowed in the past, which will result in additional cuts totaling an additional $2.5 million burden to Carmel Clay’s general fund. This provision would have dire financial consequences for Carmel Clay Schools.

To help, you can contact the Governor and copy our area legislators. Let them know the impact that the current thinking on the state school budget and formula would have on our schools and programs. Governor Daniels is expected to provide a budget proposal of his own to a Special Budget Subcommittee by June 1. That subcommittee will then develop a proposal to be considered in the special legislative session that is expected to begin in mid-June so that a budget can be passed before July 1. Now is our opportunity to influence state leaders before they pass a final budget and formula for distribution to schools. Following is contact information for the governor as well as state representatives and senators serving our district:

The Honorable Governor Mitch Daniels
200 West
Washington, Room 206
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Email: http://www.in.gov/gov/2631.htm

State senators or representatives below can be reached by mail at:
200 W.
Washington Street
Indianapolis, IN 46204

Representative Cindy Noe Email: H87@in.gov
Representative Gerald Torr Email H39@in.gov
Representation Edward DeLaney Email H86@in.gov

Senator Luke Kenley Email: S20@in.gov
Senator Teresa Lubbers Email: S30@in.gov
Senator Michael Delph Email S29@in.gov

Thank you for your support of Carmel Clay Schools and our students’ future.

Sincerely,

Barbara Underwood, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools

It is also worth noting that Superintendent Underwood has already announced her upcoming retirement (before she sent this email).

Obviously I agree with the concerns expressed in Underwood's email. I'm just surprised that the school district has decided to raise those concerns in such a public "in your face" way. Good job!

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