News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

January 21, 2014

School debt levy redirects funds across Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS — School officials and state legislators from around the state are searching for ways to keep the school buses running — and children safe on the streets — pending the loss of millions of dollars for school transportation.

More than 50 school districts in Indiana stand to lose at least 20 percent of their revenues for transportation, new buses and other big-ticket projects under a new law that requires them to first pay off their debts.

The law, slated to go into effect later this year, comes as many cash-strapped districts are still struggling to adjust to property tax caps passed by lawmakers in 2008.

The new law would severely impact the schools in counties that saw dramatic drops in the value of their commercial and industrial bases last year — a drop that has already cut deeply into the taxes they collect to keep buses running and repair leaky roofs.

Goshen Community Schools, for example, stand to lose 47 percent of their revenue for transportation and capital projects, or a $3.5 million loss. School officials, who’ve already seen a 20 percent drop in property tax revenues due to the tax caps, have cut back bus routes and informed more children they’ll have to walk or find another way to get to school.

“This is a working community,” said Goshen Superintendent Diane Woodworth. “We know parents have to leave home before their kids go off to school, so they rely on those school buses.”

Woodworth has asked teachers to urge students affected by the bus cuts to stay on the sidewalks when they walk to school — especially on dark, winter mornings when streets are snow-covered and slick. School nurses have stocked extra clothing for children who arrive wet after walking through rain or melting snow.

“It’s frightening some mornings to see those children out walking in the dark,” Woodworth said. “I just pray, ‘Please, children, stay on those sidewalks.’”

School districts across Indiana were affected when tax caps limited revenues to pay for a range of services and projects. Under current law, school corporations can spread those losses over several funds, including debt service, school pension debt, capital projects, transportation and bus replacement.

But the new “protected levy” law, passed in 2012 and delayed until this July of this year, removed that flexibility. It requires districts to apply their property tax revenues to debt payments before other expenses.

The Legislative Services Agency, the nonpartisan research arm of the General Assembly, found the new law impacts school districts differently. About one-third of school districts won’t see immediate reductions in revenue available for transportation and capital projects when the new law goes into effect this summer. But the LSA report also noted that an increasing number of school districts may face this funding dilemma in years to come as the tax caps continue to erode school revenue.

Reasons vary as to why some schools are impacted more than others.

Sen. Luke Kenley, R-Noblesville, the powerful Senate Appropriations chairman who backed the protected levy law as a way to protect bondholders, said some districts got themselves into this fix by overbuilding and taking on too much debt before the tax caps cut into their revenues. Other districts, he said, suffer from poor financial management.

“You have schools where somebody hasn’t managed money well in the past and now they’re in a jam,” Kenley said.

In Muncie, where school officials have been criticized for not making tough cuts in the past, the situation is critical. Muncie schools stand to lose nearly 90 percent of their transportation funds under the new protected levy law. Last November, voters turned down a referendum that would have raised local taxes to keep school buses running. In response, Muncie schools asked state officials to let them drop bus service next year — a request that’s been denied.

Some state legislators looking for a solution for the problem said poor financial management isn’t the only reason for the districts’ woes. Schools confronting declining property values and a large share of residential taxpayers — who proportionately pay less in property taxes than business — also find themselves in a pinch.

There’s no consensus yet on what the fix needs to be. State Sen. Randy Head, R-Logansport, has proposed creating a grant program, administered by the state Department of Education, that would help hard-hit schools replace revenue lost by the property tax caps.

Other proposed legislation would give schools more flexibility in paying off debts by easing some of the restrictions imposed by the new protected levy law. Some school officials, meanwhile, are asking legislators to create another local-option income tax to funnel more money directly to school districts.

Rep. Todd Huston, R-Fishers, has a bill that would give more flexibility to school corporations to deal with the impact of the loss of revenue from the tax caps. Among other things, his bill would delay implementation of the protected tax levy law for three years and it would differentiate between debt incurred before and after the tax caps went into effect. Doing the latter could put more money back into school transportation funds.  

Huston’s bill was heard by the House Ways and Means Committee Tuesday, where it received cautious support.  

Kenley, meanwhile, said he’s also confident that a temporary solution will be found during this year’s short, legislative session that must wrap up by March 15. But he also expects legislators will return next year, during the longer budget session, to re-examine larger issues of school funding.

“We’ve got to determine what’s causing some of these [funding] problems, and we need to look at them in the long run,” Kenley said. “We don’t want schools not to be able to provide transportation for their students.”

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for CNHI, the Tribune-Star’s parent company. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com. Follow her on Twitter @Maureen.Hayden.



 

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Local & Bistate
  • Purdue Shooting2.jpg Purdue shooting leaves one person dead

    A Purdue University engineering student opened fire inside a basement classroom Tuesday, killing a teaching assistant and prompting officials to put the campus on lockdown, police and the university said.

    January 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET 042214 SWIM BULL.jpg Swim by 7 program: Cool Pool School

    Swim by 7 is a collaborative effort involving the United Way of the Wabash Valley and the Vigo County School Corp. As envisioned, all VCSC kindergarten students would participate in the learn-to-swim program once the new VCSC Aquatics Facility is constructed and ready for use at Voorhees Park.

    April 22, 2014 6 Photos

  • Purdue Shooting_Will.jpg THS grad Miller among students in adjacent building when shooting occurs

    Kris Miller and his roommate were in a computer lab of Purdue’s mechanical engineering building Tuesday when they received a call that a shooting had occurred next door.

    January 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bosma Bosma moves gay marriage ban bill to friendlier committee

    Republican House of Representatives Speaker Brian Bosma sent a bill that proposes a constitutional ban on gay marriage to a more conservative-leaning legislature committee Tuesday, because it lacked support on the first committee to which it was assigned.

    January 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET012014 snowtracks.jpg We enter the deep freeze again

    If you had to step outside to get your newspaper this morning, you might have noticed it’s painfully cold once again.

    January 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET012014busses weir.jpg Levy redirects school funds

    If the new “protected levy” legislation goes into effect later this year, it would mean “a substantial reduction” in revenue for Vigo County School Corp. bus transportation, capital projects and bus replacement funds, according to the district’s chief financial officer.

    January 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • School debt levy redirects funds across Indiana

    School officials and state legislators from around the state are searching for ways to keep the school buses running — and children safe on the streets — pending the loss of millions of dollars for school transportation.
    More than 50 school districts in Indiana stand to lose at least 20 percent of their revenues for transportation, new buses and other big-ticket projects under a new law that requires them to first pay off their debts.

    January 21, 2014

  • MET 012114 DONNELLY BOARD.jpg VIDEO: Sen. Donnelly updates T-S editorial board

    Passage of a long overdue U.S. farm bill could be completed by the end of this month, Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., said Tuesday.

    January 21, 2014 1 Photo 1 Video

  • Vigo coroner tries again for salary increase

    After being denied last year, Vigo County Coroner Dr. Susan Amos is again seeking to have her county salary increased to match that of several other county office holders.

    January 21, 2014

  • Candidates file finance reports

    The Democratic race for judge of Vigo County Superior Court Division 2 boasts the most fundraising of all campaigns for the May 6 primary election.

    April 22, 2014

  • MET042214 earthdaymcclennan.jpg Mayor Duke Bennett leads community discussion on litter

    Talking trash in the neighborhood can get down and dirty.

    April 22, 2014 3 Photos

  • Public hears about grant to clean up E. coli in Otter Creek

    Greg Dunham has known Otter Creek since his childhood. “I walked that creek. I lived in that creek and I was all the time fishing in it, so this was news to me” he said about the concern of Escherichia coli (E. coli) in the Otter Creek watershed.

    April 22, 2014

  • MET042214 elanco.jpg Lilly to buy Novartis Animal Health

    Eli Lilly and Co. plans to acquire Novartis Animal Health for about $5.4 billion, a move believed to strengthen and diversify Lilly’s own animal health business, Elanco.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Men: Requests by missing IU girl’s parents too broad

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Two men who were with a 20-year-old Indiana University student before she vanished in 2011 say in court documents that her parents are on a “fishing expedition” in their efforts to obtain evidence to use in a lawsuit against them.

    April 22, 2014

  • FEMA OKs aid for Vigo County

    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — The Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved disaster aid for 19 Indiana counties hit by a January storm that brought paralyzing snow and frigid readings.

    April 22, 2014

  • Vigo County Jail Log: April 22, 2014

    The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Monday and Tuesday, based on jail records.

    April 22, 2014

  • firstcarphotoforweb copy.jpg Remember Your First Car?

    Tell us about it! Your memories could be part of an upcoming story in the Tribune-Star. Click on this story to find out how.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET 042114 NEW ISU TRACK.jpg Indiana State breaks ground for $4.3M riverside track and field facility

    Indiana State University officials, community leaders and donors broke ground Monday on a new, $4.3 million track and field facility on the Wabash riverfront, along North First Street.

    April 21, 2014 3 Photos

  • Panel approves new school benchmarks

    A panel of Indiana business and education leaders were met with boos and jeers from attendees after they voted overwhelmingly Monday to support new math and English standards set to replace the Common Core in classrooms this fall.

    April 21, 2014

  • schaffer, aaron.jpg Man to face several charges in Linton shooting death

    A homicide northeast of Linton is being investigated by the Greene County Sheriff’s Department.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • aquatic center exterior.jpg Board approves bond structure to fund central pool project

    The Vigo County School Corp.’s $9.8 million aquatics center is “on schedule” and “the budget looks good,” Superintendent Dan Tanoos told the School Board on Monday.

    April 21, 2014 2 Photos

  • Judge: Indiana hasn’t given good reason for same-sex marriage ban

    A federal judge has said that attorneys defending Indiana’s gay marriage ban haven’t given a valid reason why the state should not recognize the out-of-state marriage of a lesbian couple, one of whom has a terminal illness.

    April 21, 2014

  • Police: Death from natural causes for 2 bodies found in home

    Death by natural causes has been ruled in the deaths of two people whose bodies were found Sunday evening inside their Pimento area home in southern Vigo County.

    April 21, 2014

  • MET 042114 NEW FIREFIGHTER.jpg 10 men, 1 woman added to Fire Dept. ranks

    Eleven recruits joined the ranks of the Terre Haute Fire Department on Monday during a swearing-in ceremony at Terre Haute City Hall.

    April 21, 2014 4 Photos

  • Mayor to host Earth Day event for children

    Mayor Duke Bennett has partnered with Indiana State University and the Vigo County Public Library to invite children grades K-5 for an evening of hands-on, environmental learning at the City’s first Earth Day Extravaganza. The free event will be today, Earth Day, from 4 ot 6 p.m. at the library.

    April 21, 2014

  • City to host Arbor Day award reception Wednesday

    Terre Haute’s urban forester and Mayor Duke Bennett will host Terre Haute’s first Arbor Day Urban Forest Award reception at 6 p.m. Wednesday at The Ohio Building.

    April 21, 2014

  • Homicide investigation under way in Greene County

    A homicide northeast of Linton is being investigated by the Greene County Sheriff’s Department.

    April 21, 2014

  • Vigo County Jail Log: April 21, 2014

    The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, based on jail records.

    April 21, 2014

  • Ohio boy rescued from bottom of Indiana hotel pool

    The quick action of bystanders is being credited with saving the life of a northwestern Ohio teenager who was pulled over the weekend from the hotel pool at a southern Indiana state park.

    April 21, 2014

  • MET 042014 DOUBLE-DEATH.jpg 2 bodies found in Pimento home

    Police were at the scene of a death investigation on Sunday in southern Vigo County.
    “It’s a double death investigation,” Vigo County Chief Deputy Clark E. Cottom told the Tribune-Star at the scene.

    April 20, 2014 2 Photos

Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Raw: Man Fatally Shot During Police Standoff Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart Bon Jovi Helps Open Low-income Housing in Philly 'Piles' of Bodies in South Sudan Slaughter Stowaway Teen Forces Review of Airport Security Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers 'Miss Meadows' Takes Holmes Back to Her Roots Raw: Tesla Delivers First China Cars Raw: Royal Couple Tours Uluru in Australia Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Raw: Sinkhole Swallows Part of Fla. Yard Pipeline Opponents Protest on National Mall New Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees Named Hong Kong Residents Help Create Green Roofs Hagel Gets Preview of New High-tech Projects New Yorkers Celebrate Cherry Blossom Blooms Biden: Russia Must Stop Talking, Start Acting David Moyes Out As Manchester United Manager Iowa College Finds Beauty in Bulldogs
NDN Video
Viral: It's Not Pitbull - It's Amy Poehler! Raw: Leopard Bites Man in India Jenna Dewan-Tatum Strips Down Rise of the Milkbots TRENDING: Brian Williams Raps 'Gin and Juice' on ‘Tonight Show’ Middle School heroes rescue students from burning bus WHOPPER OF FISHING STORY: Florida man catches massive Mako shark Maks Chmerkovskiy's "DWTS" Meltdown The many faces of Mike Woodson Ape Builds A Fire And Toasts Marshmallows In Amazing BBC Video Manchester Utd sack manager David Moyes "RHOA's" Dramatic Brawl High school, College Drug Ring Busted In Montgomery County High Court to Hear Dispute of TV Over Internet Raw: Keflezighi, Jeptoo Win Boston Marathon Teen hitchhikes in wheel well of flight from California to Hawaii Lindsay Lohan's Jaw-Dropping Secret President Sends Message To Boston And Marathon Runners LA Pastor Attracts Churchgoers with Pot Lauren Stoner Shows Off Her Incredible Bikini Body
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
  • -

     

    March 12, 2010

activity