News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Breaking News

News

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
News
  • MET 073114 FAIR 02HEALTH.jpg Tracking a herd

    When a pig named Bruce stumbled as it was unloaded off a trailer and into the swine barn at the Indiana State Fairgrounds Thursday morning, Clint Shireman took notice.

    August 1, 2014 3 Photos

  • Mobs, toting cash, seek to enliven area shops

    The mob dropped like a tornado on the small northern Indiana town of North Manchester. They rushed into a small specialty shop, changing its future.

    August 1, 2014

  • SPT080114CASY hlleck.jpg CASY set to take over Bikes for Tykes

    Chances and Services for Youth, a not-for-profit group dedicated to helping kids, is taking over the Bikes for Tykes program from the Exchange Club of Terre Haute.

    August 1, 2014 2 Photos 1 Story

  • MET080114barrett mckee.jpg Barrett named assistant ISU police chief

    Chief lauds Barrett’s experience in juvenile, violent, white-color crime investigations
    Tribune-Star staff report

    August 1, 2014 2 Photos

  • SPT080114CASY decker.jpg City’s Exchange Club calls it quits

    After more than nine decades, the Exchange Club of Terre Haute has called it quits.

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo 1 Story

  • MET073114griffin markers.jpg Trail blazers

    Blake Griffin remembers when he and his brother, Dale, would ride their bikes along wooded trails in the wilderness area of Fowler Park.

    July 31, 2014 7 Photos

  • Officials say city ‘overspent’

    Two Terre Haute councilmen told the Taxpayers Association of Vigo County Thursday they think the city is overspending, but they gave no solutions to reduce expenses.

    July 31, 2014

  • MET073114sinkhole korenski.jpg Block downtown to close for repairs

    A sinkhole is forcing the temporary closure of a major downtown street beginning Monday.

    July 31, 2014 2 Photos

  • MET 012312 MICK NEWPORT.jpg Wave of retirees at Vigo schools

    Valarie Bailey has worked for the Vigo County School Corp. for 26 years in roles that included at-risk counselor, school social worker, assistant student services director and curriculum coordinator.

    July 31, 2014 1 Photo

  • Fire house to fire dept.

    A legal battle has been resolved to restore ownership of the community fire station in Fayette Township.

    July 31, 2014

  • Road Closings

    14th Street, from Oak to Poplar streets, will be closed from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Aug. 9 for Friends and Family Weekend.

    July 31, 2014

  • August Fire Safety Tip

    Monthly safety hint — Barbeque/grilling safety

    July 31, 2014

  • Difference makers, a nickel at a time

    Joining a youth sports team, getting a new pair of shoes or taking music lessons are among the things that will be happening for more Vigo County children in the CASA Kids program thanks to a new financial supporter.

    July 31, 2014

  • MET 073014 WESTMINISTER DIG.jpg Expanding independence

    Westminster Village, a Terre Haute retirement community, is investing $1.8 million to construct 12 new villa homes, officials announced Wednesday.

    July 30, 2014 5 Photos

  • Decades later, dry cleaners leave blemish

    Fifty years ago, about 30 dry cleaners did business in the city of Terre Haute. City officials are now cleaning up the mess some left behind.

    July 30, 2014 1 Story

  • MARK BENNETT: Year of River sets example for state

    Terre Haute pays more attention to the Wabash River these days.

    July 30, 2014

  • Climate of less regulation, more chemical spills leaves ‘historical pollution,’ NCA director says

    Former dry cleaning sites are an environmental problem all over the state, according to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management.

    July 30, 2014 1 Story

  • MET073014parks bbushee.jpg Camping turnout low for first half of summer

    Camping revenue for the past two months has dropped in Vigo County parks, a downturn park officials say is difficult to attribute to a new park policy limiting campers’ stays to 14 days in the three county parks.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • MET 073014 DESTROYED.jpg Devastating fire takes out mobile home

    A Seelyville mobile home sustained heavy damage in a fire early Wednesday morning.
    Lost Creek Township firefighters were called to the scene in the 2200 block of Tabortown Road south of U.S. 40 at about 2 a.m.

    July 30, 2014 3 Photos

  • Man posts bond after fatal wreck

    An Oct. 7 trial date has been set for a Terre Haute man accused of driving while intoxicated causing death.

    July 30, 2014 3 Stories

  • Driver injured, airlifted, cited for failure to yield

    An elderly woman was injured in a crash Wednesday afternoon in Sullivan County, according to Indiana State Police.

    July 30, 2014

  • MET072914leo screen.jpg Slick’s debut

    Bobby “Slick” Leonard was the main attraction but his hometown, Terre Haute, was constantly in the background as friends, fans and family gathered in Indianapolis Tuesday night to honor the man famous for the words “Boom Baby.”

    July 29, 2014 8 Photos

  • MET 072914 TAJIMI YANASE.jpg Sister-city students get a dose of ‘new culture’

    One of Juri Sawada’s dreams has been to visit America.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • Motion delays trial for 2012 homicide

    A man who has been jailed about 20 months in connection with the homicide of his wife will not go on trial next week as scheduled.

    July 29, 2014

  • Sheriff charged in prostitution case

    Clark County Sheriff Danny Rodden has spent more than 30 years in law enforcement working to protect the public from criminals, but on Tuesday he was treated as one.

    July 29, 2014 1 Story

  • maple candy closeup.jpg Vigo Parks dishing out the sweetness

    Vigo County Parks and Recreation has made a “sweet” addition to its maple syrup production at Prairie Creek Park.

    July 29, 2014 3 Photos

  • Danny Rodden indicted on federal charges

    Instead of overseeing the operations of the Clark County jail and police force Tuesday, Clark County Sheriff Danny Rodden found himself being transported by the FBI to Indianapolis to answer federal charges.

    July 29, 2014 1 Story

  • Woman’s condition ‘fair’ after grocery store wreck

    A Terre Haute woman was listed in fair condition Tuesday at Eskenazi Health in Indianapolis as the result of injuries sustained in Monday’s accident on the Baesler’s Market parking lot.

    July 29, 2014

  • Semi driver cited for alcohol use

    A commercial vehicle driver has been placed out of service after he tested positive for alcohol consumption during a Tuesday morning traffic stop in Sullivan County.

    July 29, 2014

  • Church to give out school backpacks

    United Methodist Temple will stage its first-ever Back-2-School Bash from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on Aug. 9.
    The church is located at 5301 S. U.S. 41.

    July 29, 2014

Latest News
TribStar.com Poll
AP Video
Renewed Violence Taking Toll on Gaza Residents Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Gaza Truce Unravels; Israel, Hamas Trade Blame Raw: Tunisia Closes Borders With Libya WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat 2 Americans Detained in North Korea Seek Help Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Four Rescued From Crashed Plane House GOP Optimistic About New Border Bill Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene US Employers Add 209K Jobs, Rate 6.2 Pct Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle Raw: Obama Gets Hug From Special Olympian Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo
NDN Video
Under Armour Launches Biggest Women's Campaign with Inspiring Ad NYPD chokehold death of Eric Garner was homicide: medical examiner Christina Aguilera Pulls a Demi Moore! Man with no arms throws first pitch Chapter Two: Composing for a film in retirement Is Justin Bieber Dating a Model? Guardians of the Galaxy (Trailer) 'Sharknado 2:' Hottest Memes Surfing The Net Snoop Dogg Narrating Animal Footage Is Perfect Raw: Obama Gets Hug From Special Olympian Recapping a Blockbuster MLB Trade Deadline Tigers Acquire David Price - @TheBuzzeronFOX Russell Brand Slams Sean Hannity Over Gaza Conflict Segment Woman's Dive Goes Terribly Wrong Brian Williams Reports on Daughter Allison Williams' 'Peter Pan' Casting News Did Jimmy Fallon Look Up Heidi Klum's Dress? What Drama? Miranda Kerr Poses Topless Plane crashes in San Diego Costco parking lot Justin Bieber Takes To Instagram To Diss Orlando Bloom You Won't Believe the Celeb Cameos in "Sharknado 2"
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
Real Estate News