could save schools money and protect education for students
Patrons of the Milan Community School Corporation learned in
a special called meeting of the
Milan School Board on February 18 that a cut of about $400,000
or more will be needed in order for the schools to continue to
operate in the black. This same presentation was given earlier
at the January board meeting as well as to the staff at all three
schools, according to Interim Superintendent Steve Gookins.
Currently, the state provides funding for the schools rather than
the local property taxes as in the past. Schools receive a per
student stipend and if the current trend of decreasing enrollment
continues, schools will receive less funding.
According to Gookins, Indiana operates on a two-year fiscal budget.
The current budget started August of 2009 and will end in 2011.
Not only will the cuts affect the 2009-2010 school year, but also
the 2010-2011 school year with a projected cut of $178,500 in
The Indiana Constitution prohibits the state getting into debt,
which has prompted the cuts in many areas besides the schools
such as law enforcement and the DNR.
Gookins reminded the patrons attending that a school cannot operate
with deficit finance for very long before it becomes state controlled.
Cuts have been suggested in areas such as expenditures, extracurricular
staff as well as staff not directly connected to instruction such
as custodians, instructional aides, and counselors.
Another way to cut costs, not just for Milan, but for the Jac-Cen-Del
and South Ripley school corporations, would be to merge governments.
Gookins noted that there could be a possible savings of a half
million dollars without closing a building.
When merging schools governments, explained Gookins, there
is only one superintendent, assistant, secretary, treasurer, nurse
and transportation director for the schools. There would be savings
in software, text books, and property and liability insurance
as well, he noted.
Not to be confused with consolidation, those schools that merge
governments will not lose their identity. Neither will it affect
student participation in athletics, according to Gookins, as a
student cannot participate in an athletic program in a different
school as per IHSAA regulations.
Merging would increase academic opportunities for students, Gookins
noted. For example, a student would be able to take a course not
offered in the school he or she attends. Merging opens the
door for flexibility for the students, said Gookins.
The small town feeling for a school is also important, Gookins
noted. He said merging would retain that feeling, but also better
prepare a student to pursue their dreams. Courses that normally
would only have the interest of a few students at each school
could be offered at one location with an instructor qualified
to teach it.
Examples of schools with merged governments can be found across
the state, according to Gookins. For example, schools in Bartholomew,
Blackford, Jay and Switzerland counties operate with a one administration
Representatives from school boards and superintendents have met
on an informal basis in round-robin type discussions to address
the budget cuts. These are only preliminary discussions, according
to Gookins, with no commitments being made.
Its an example of trying to explore every avenue possible,
Gookins reminded those attending that this was his opinion based
on data from his research to better provide the students of Milan
School Corporation the best education possible.
We are literally looking at everything, said Gookins.
We are turning every stone over to run this school more
Parents are encouraged to fill out a citizens checklist
that will better communicate the needs for the schools, according
to Gookins. A form can be picked up at the administration office.
There was a large turn out at the special
called public meeting of the Milan School Corporation Board
of Trustees to discuss options on how to deal with losing
more than $400,000 in funding for the schools. Interim Superintendent
Steve Gookins, standing, spoke at the meeting, introducing
the idea of merging.