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Tuesday, Feb. 20
The Indiana Daily Student

MCCSC referendum forum discusses funding changes

Without a funding increase from voters this November, school officials worry the Monroe County Community School Corporation might face more than just teacher salary and extracurricular activity cuts.

Members of the “Vote Yes on #2: Our Students Need You!” campaign gathered for a community forum Tuesday to address questions about the proposed MCCSC referendum.

MCCSC Superintendent J.T. Coopman said the proposed property tax increase of 13 to 14 cents per $100 of the property’s value would help to restore positions and programs that have been cut and prevent district schools from closing.

“It is a community initiative, and that’s why we’re asking for community support,” Coopman said.

About 65 people attended the forum at Bloomington High School North and posed questions to Coopman along with Jack Peterson, Joe Ehlers and Ron Jensen, who are all involved with the pro-referendum campaign.

Audience members submitted questions about everything from class sizes to federal funding for the schools. Coopman spent much of the forum discussing the history of the shortfall.

Since Indiana state law requires school districts to have balanced budgets by the end of each calendar year, he said the district attempted to cover the budget shortfall.

This led to early retirements and trimmed salary schedules for teachers and elimination of stipends for extracurricular activities, Coopman said.

“Without the referendum, these cuts from 2010 are going to become the cuts for fall 2011,” he said.

Coopman explained how money is budgeted for the district after being asked how the schools could afford new construction but not new teachers.

By Indiana law, schools must divide money into multiple pools, each of which has a specific purpose and money cannot be moved from one pool into another.

Ehlers added that residents can calculate how much more they’ll pay in property taxes on the “Vote Yes on #2” campaign website,

Evelyn Brophy, a Bloomington resident, attended the meeting because she wants to be knowledgeable about the referendum.

“People were very concerned,” she said. “They asked pointed questions. They weren’t all positive, but people felt comfortable asking.”

Coopman said it was important for people to learn about the facts of the proposal to promote education at all levels.

“The referendum stands for something greater than MCCSC,” Coopman said. “It stands for what this community wants and has always demanded — quality public schools.”

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