Friday, February 8, 2019

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #331 – February 7, 2019

Dear Friends,

Public school advocates need to contact members of the House Education Committee along with your own House member to oppose damaging provisions of House Bill 1641. This bill, to be voted on in a rare 8:30 am Monday morning meeting on February 11th, would:
  • for the first time, force a public school district that closes a school to sell it at 50% market value to any private or religious school that wants to buy it.
  • for the first time, take portions of the property tax money raised when a public school district passes a local referendum and give that money to charter schools sitting within the boundaries of the school district.
  • give that money to charter schools for a general revenue referendum.
  • give that money to charter schools when the public school board has done all the work to pass the referendum.
  • give that money to charter schools even though charter school boards are unelected and unaccountable to taxpayers who may have opposed the referendum and would like to vote someone out of office in the next election.
  • give a huge incentive to public school boards to avoid seeking needed funds through a referendum when they know that a major chunk of the property tax money raised will pass right on to charter schools that have not done any of the difficult work required to pass the referendum.
Forcing Taxpayers to Subsidize Private and Religious School Buildings

HB 1641 is the first effort to get taxpayers to subsidize facilities for private and religious schools.

This is another step beyond having taxpayers subsidize tuition for private and religious schools, a still-controversial step taken in 2011 pushed by groups working to erode support for public schools and working to fund unaccountable and sometimes discriminatory private schools with tax money.

This line should not be crossed. HB 1641 should not force public school districts to sell buildings to private or religious schools at a 50% discount which dissipates the investment that taxpayers have made in that building.

Forcing Public School Districts to Share Referendum Revenue with Charter Schools

Here’s how much public school districts would lose to charter schools from referendum revenues based on the provisions of HB 1641:
  • Gary Community Schools: 53.4%
  • Indianapolis Public Schools: 25%
  • Muncie Community Schools: 18.5%
This bill is a bad idea. It has been held over for two meetings of the House Education Committee. It will be voted on at the 8:30 meeting of the House Education Committee on Monday, February 11, 2019.

Let your voice be heard by then!

Press reports have hinted that sharing referendum revenue with charter schools may be taken out of the bill by Representative Behning, the sponsor, but no action on that has yet been taken, so let your concerns be heard!

Let legislators know that you strongly oppose House Bill 1641:
  • This bill would funnel public tax benefits to private and religious schools.
  • This bill would deeply cut the property tax revenues that local districts could gain from local referendums.
  • This bill would erode local funding for public schools.
If local districts lose property tax money needed for transportation or building repairs, they must shore up their budget in these areas with general fund money that could be used to raise teacher salaries. This poorly timed bill would thus have the effect of reducing the money available for lifting teacher pay, a priority goal of this session in the agendas of the Governor and of both parties.

Contact the members of the House Education Committee who will vote on an amended bill next Monday, February 11, 2019 at 8:30 am:

Republicans: Representatives Behning (bill sponsor), Cook, Burton, Clere, DeVon, Goodrich, Jordan, Lucas, and Thompson

Democrats: Representatives Smith, DeLaney, Klinker, Pfaff

Then share your concerns with your own House Representative.

Links to House Education Committee members can be found here:
Thank you for your active support of public education in Indiana!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

“Vic’s Statehouse Notes” and ICPE received one of three Excellence in Media Awards presented by Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization of over 85,000 women educators in seventeen countries. The award was presented on July 30, 2014 during the Delta Kappa Gamma International Convention held in Indianapolis. Thank you Delta Kappa Gamma!

ICPE has worked since 2011 to promote public education in the Statehouse and oppose the privatization of schools. We need your membership to help support the ICPE lobbying efforts. As of July 1st, the start of our new membership year, it is time for all ICPE members to renew their membership.

Our lobbyist Joel Hand represented ICPE extremely well during the 2018 session. We need your memberships and your support to continue his work. We welcome additional members and additional donations. We need your help and the help of your colleagues who support public education! Please pass the word!

Go to for membership and renewal information and for full information on ICPE efforts on behalf of public education. Thanks!

Some readers have asked about my background in Indiana public schools. Thanks for asking! Here is a brief bio:

I am a lifelong Hoosier and began teaching in 1969. I served as a social studies teacher, curriculum developer, state research and evaluation consultant, state social studies consultant, district social studies supervisor, assistant principal, principal, educational association staff member, and adjunct university professor. I worked for Garrett-Keyser-Butler Schools, the Indiana University Social Studies Development Center, the Indiana Department of Education, the Indianapolis Public Schools, IUPUI, and the Indiana Urban Schools Association, from which I retired as Associate Director in 2009. I hold three degrees: B.A. in Ed., Ball State University, 1969; M.S. in Ed., Indiana University, 1972; and Ed.D., Indiana University, 1977, along with a Teacher’s Life License and a Superintendent’s License, 1998. In 2013 I was honored to receive a Distinguished Alumni Award from the IU School of Education, and in 2014 I was honored to be named to the Teacher Education Hall of Fame by the Association for Teacher Education – Indiana. In April, I was honored to receive the 2018 Friend of Education Award from the Indiana State Teachers Association.


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