Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #345 – March 9, 2020

Dear Friends,

Are you still riled up about the end-of-session legislative sneak attack to divert property tax referendum money from traditional public schools to charter schools?

Please contact legislators in the next 24 hours about House Bill 1065 and House Bill 1066. Nothing was resolved this morning in Conference Committee meetings on these two bills.

Legislators will make decisions on these two bills tonight and tomorrow, before finalizing all bills and adjourning Wednesday evening. Your help is immensely important! If you sent messages over the weekend, send them again with vigor!


This sneak attack on funding comes when public schools are focused not on legislative cliff hangers but on keeping students and staff safe in the coronavirus crisis.

This proposal should be dismissed until next year when it can get public testimony. Legislative leaders need to hear an earful from public school advocates in the next 24 hours to counter the abundance of paid charter school and private school lobbyists working the Statehouse.

In this morning’s Conference Committee on HB 1065, after Representative Thompson summarized the list of provisions that are likely to end up in his Conference Committee report, six Democrats spoke up strongly against the provision to divert property tax money to charter schools. One Republican defended the proposal. The meeting lasted 25 minutes.

Representative DeLaney (D – Indianapolis) pointed out that making this a “may” provision means that every time a public school board wants to propose a referendum to boost operating funds, they must immediately start negotiating with charter schools regarding the amount of the charter portion or else the charter schools will work to defeat the referendum.

Representative Pryor (D- Indianapolis) explained that including charter schools will raise the amount of property tax that will be requested from taxpayers. If for example the local school board needs $10 million from the property taxpayers, they will perhaps have to ask for $11 million to satisfy the charter school requests.

Talking Points

Your help is needed! Tell the leadership and members of the Conference Committee on HB 1065 listed below that you strongly oppose Sections 31-39 of the bill based on these points:
  • This major change to the content of HB 1065 was passed without any opportunity for public testimony. This subverts the democratic process. It should be deferred to the budget session next year.
  • The shocking and unbelievable response to the horrible $68 million virtual school fraud scandal so far has been this: leave weak audits for charter schools in place and then divert property tax dollars from traditional public schools to unmonitored charter school budgets in a new way. There’s something deeply wrong here.
  • This issue will guide the votes of angry educators next November.
  • Charter schools often enroll students from outside the district. Allowing charter schools to receive referendum dollars from district taxpayers who don’t want to support out-of-district students may make referendum elections more difficult to pass.
  • In addition to tuition support from the funding formula, charter schools already get $750 per ADM that traditional schools don’t get to cover operating expenses.
  • Not one single public school asked for this language. Suggestions that this is being done to give public schools more “freedom” are misleading.
  • There is zero evidence that allowing charter schools access to referendum funds would make the referendum more likely to pass.
  • HB 1065 in Sections 37-39 also proposes TIF districts, originally devised to help distressed areas, to be expanded to residential housing developments, further eroding the property tax levies available to support public schools, libraries and other taxing units. The 935 TIF districts in Indiana already capture $30 billion in Assessed Value which supports TIF projects and not public schools or other governmental units.
Take Action!

In addition to your own Senator and House member, please contact the caucus leaders Sen. Bray-R (s37@iga.in.gov) Sen. Lanane-D (s25@iga.in.gov) Rep. Huston-R (h37@iga.in.gov) Rep. Bosma-R (h88@iga.in.gov) Rep. GiaQuinta-D) (h80@iga.in.gov).

Then contact members of the Conference Committee on HB 1605 to object to this sneak attack to divert property tax money from traditional public schools to charter schools:

Conferees to contact on HB 1065: Rep. Thompson-R (chair) (h28@iga.in.gov), Rep. Porter –D (h96@iga.in.gov) , Sen. Holdman (s19@iga.in.gov), Sen. Melton (s3@iga.in.gov)

Advisors to contact on HB 1065: Rep. Tim Brown-R (h41@iga.in.gov) Rep. Mayfield – R (h60@iga.in.gov), Rep. Cherry (h53@iga.in.gov), Rep. Jordan (h17@iga.in.gov), Rep. DeLaney-D (h86@iga.in.gov), Rep. Hamilton – D (h87@iga.in.gov), Rep. Pierce – D (h61@iga.in.gov), Rep. Pryor –D (h94@iga.in.gov), Sen. Bohacek – R (s8@iga.in.gov), Sen. Rogers –R (s11@iga.in.gov) Sen. Niezgodski –R (s10@iga.in.gov)


The Conference Committee on House Bill 1066 also met Monday morning March 9th and did not mention anything about the private school voucher expansion that had been approved in the House version but taken out in the Senate version. The House included voucher expansion costing, according to the Legislative Services Agency, between $6 million and $12 million to provide private school vouchers for foster students and their foster family siblings. Senator Mishler, in the Senate Appropriations Committee, took out the voucher expansion, saying he didn’t want to open the budget for this purpose when many other requests to open the budget were rejected.

The fact that this part of the bill was not mentioned this morning does not mean it’s off the table. Let the legislators below know that the budget should not be opened for school voucher expansion, especially when it was not opened to address the huge issue of teacher pay!

Conferees to contact on HB 1066: Rep. Thompson-R (chair) (h28@iga.in.gov), Rep. Vernon Smith –D (h14@iga.in.gov), Sen. Raatz-R (s27@iga.in.gov), Sen. Stoops-D (s40@iga.in.gov)

Advisors to contact on HB 1066: Rep. Behning-R (h91@iga.in.gov) Rep. Bacon – R (h75@iga.in.gov), Rep. DeLaney-D (h86@iga.in.gov), Rep. Klinker – D (h27@iga.in.gov), Rep. Pfaff – D (h43@iga.in.gov), Sen. Buchanan – R (s7@iga.in.gov), Sen. Melton- D (S3@iga.in.gov)

Any contacts you can make with lawmakers in the next 24 hours on these two issues will help public education!

Thank you for actively supporting 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 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 is representing ICPE extremely well in the 2020 short 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 www.indianacoalitionforpubliced.org 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 of 2018, I was honored to receive the 2018 Friend of Education Award from the Indiana State Teachers Association.


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