I hate to be the bearer of bad news but you have been duped, not by Superintendent of Schools Jeremy Gulley, nor by your Board of Trustees. As I read the front page article in the February 19, 2019 edition of the Commercial Review titled “Block Out,” a quote by board president Phil Ford, “None of us will be reelected to the Jay School Board” has played over and over in my mind.
I know you are frustrated, I’m frustrated, Bob Lyons is frustrated, your board and superintendent are frustrated.
I attended a meeting February 26, 2019, sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Henry County. One of the speakers was Dr. Jennifer McCormick, State Superintendent of Public Instruction and yes, she is frustrated, to the point of not running for re-election when her term ends. Citizens of Jay County, you should be outraged not at your superintendent or board. It’s time to aim your frustration and outrage in the right direction, directly at Governor Holcomb, State Senator Travis Holdman, and State House of Representatives member JD Prescott.
It is the past 3 governors and the state legislators who have slowly and consistently failed to adequately fund public schools. Doubt my statement, consider the following examples.
First, an excerpt from an article which appeared in the February 9, 2019 edition of the Commercial Review page 4 titled “Study labels Indiana at risk” written by Michael Hicks, director of the Center of Business & Economic Research Ball State University.
Mr. Hicks writes in the last paragraph, “By weakening the college preparatory focus and shifting funding away from K-12, we have created a workforce less well-prepared for disruptions than they were a decade ago. The final takeaway is that when Kentucky is outperforming your state in human capital policies, it’s time to do something different.”
Second, again in the Commercial Review, December 22, 2018, page 4, titled “It’s time to raise pay for teachers.” In that article was noted that Indiana teachers start their career with a lower average starting salary than the national average and below the average starting salary of each of the 4 border states, then, as their careers progress, Indiana teachers fall farther behind their counterparts in the same categories.
Or finally, my favorite, “Property tax caps and public education” printed September 20, 2016 in the Kokomo Perspective and available online. Kokomo schools like the Jay School Corporation is experiencing staggering loss of funds from the state. “For Kokomo School Corporation, the circuit breaker losses have grown exponentially since they were first experienced in 2010 when financial losses were $747,161. For 2016, the losses were $3,639,424. For 2017, Indiana’s Department of Local Government Finance has informed the school corporation that losses from the circuit breaker are likely to be more staggering.”
Same article, next paragraph. “The news just continues to grow worse each year. As the State of Indiana continues it increase revenue and shift taxes to its coffers, local schools and local government entities are seeing reductions. As Indiana continues to boast about $2 billion in savings, as evidenced by large billboards placed around the perimeter of the State as a beacon to those form Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, and Michigan, local schools and local governments are struggling.”
Given the above information, I hope you see the Superintendent and Board of Trustees had few options. But you can help.
What can you do?
First, I understand the 2019 Indiana State Legislature is presently working on a budget that will guide spending for the next 2 years. Speak up now or forget it until 2021. The Governor and members of the State Legislature are hoping you do nothing and they do what they want.
Second, the Indiana State Legislature is sitting on $2,000,000,000, that’s $2 BILLION, in the Rainy Day Fund. At the same time, they have choked off your Jay School Corporation and others around the state.
Third, there is no substitute for voicing support for public schools around this state. To contact Governor Eric Holcomb’s office 317-232-4567, to leave a message for State Senator Travis Holdman 1-800-382-9467, and to leave a message for John (JD) Prescott 1-800-382-9842. Feel free to call often!!
The last paragraph in an Hoosier Editorial, Commercial Review, January 5, 2019, Page 4, titled “Let Lawmakers Know How You Feel” went like this:
“Government is at it’s best when people are engaged and involved. Lawmakers work for you. Don’t be shy about letting them know your opinions.”