Monday, March 20, 2023

In Case You Missed It – March 20, 2023

Here are links to last week's articles receiving the most attention on NEIFPE's social media accounts. Keep up with what's going on, what's being discussed, and what's happening with public education.

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Three of this week's articles are in the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. Support local newspapers and media. Click the link at the end to subscribe for online access or delivery.


Democrats oppose textbook funding mandate

Republicans in the Indiana General Assembly continue to do as much damage as they can to public schools. Governor Holcomb called for funding textbooks so parents wouldn't have to pay for them. Republicans in the House left the mandate for paying for textbooks in the law but deleted the funding leaving the school systems in the lurch.

"House Republicans deleted the funding from their version of the budget, which the chamber approved in late February on a party-line vote. They boasted in a budget summary that their proposal 'eliminates fees for textbooks and curricular materials.' It does: It makes it illegal for public and charter schools to charge for them. But it doesn’t provide any money, leaving the funding up to the schools."

From School Matters
Indiana Democratic legislators are pushing back on a plan by House Republicans to shift the cost of textbooks and curricular materials to public and charter schools.

First to step up: Rep. Tanya Pfaff, D-Terre Haute. In a news release this week, she says Republicans are pulling an “accounting trick” that will cost Vigo County Community Schools nearly $1.4 million a year.

“Our state constitution promises tuition-free education for all students, and it’s time to make good on that promise for students and families,” Pfaff says. “But House Republicans’ budget is a bait and switch that saddles the Vigo County School Corporation will the cost of all students’ textbooks …”

As of now, Indiana is one of only seven states where families are charged for textbooks and curricular materials. The state pays for books and materials for students who qualify by income for free or reduced-price school meals, but all other families are on the hook for the expenses.


How School Voucher Laws Protect Discrimination.

Private and religious schools want public money, but they don't want to follow the same rules that public schools follow.

" man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever..." -- Thomas Jefferson

From Peter Greene in Forbes
The intent is clear enough—to provide education service providers (private schools, tutors, education materials publishers, etc) with the ability to use taxpayer dollars however they see fit. No officials can ask them to alter their “creed, practices, admission policy, hiring policy or curriculum,” meaning that a private school could be free to discriminate as it wishes, even as it uses taxpayer dollars to deliver religious instruction.

This allows states to operate—and require taxpayers to fund—a school system that exists in parallel dimension where the United States Constitution is forbidden to reach. Private schools and other education service providers will be free to discriminate against students and staff on the taxpayer’s dime. The voucher non-interference language further insures that the system will be one in which it is the school, not the family, that has choice—”admission policy” is one of the protected areas.

We’ve already seen vouchers used to send millions of taxpayer dollars to anti-LGBTQ schools and schools with anti-science curricula. We’ve seen plenty of research indicating that voucher programs hurt result in sub-par education for students. But with laws written to protect such actions, it’s hard to know how far such taxpayer-funded miseducation could go.

Northwest Allen County Schools

Northwest Allen County Schools board meeting site to change in April

Northwest Allen County Schools is changing the venue for their board meetings.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
The Northwest Allen County Schools board will conduct business in a different venue beginning next month because its typical meeting site will be repurposed for central office staff.

The elected officials unanimously endorsed the April 10 move to the Perry Hill Elementary School gymnasium and the related central office reconfiguration with little discussion Monday.

Meetings are currently held in the boardroom, which is within the central office facilities at Perry Hill and can seat about 50 attendees.

NACS is working to ensure the gym will have proper amenities for the meetings, such as Wi-Fi, audio and video. The district livestreams the proceedings, but the audio quality can vary depending on the speaker.

Indiana Preschool Enrollment

Indiana opens enrollment for pre-K program

Indiana's preschool program is now accepting enrollment applications.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
Families of 4-year-olds can now seek enrollment in Indiana’s preschool program for the upcoming academic year, officials announced Monday.

Open to children from lower-income families, On My Way Pre-K awards grants to eligible children so they can attend high-quality preschool programs for a year before kindergarten.

The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration reported a record high enrollment this academic year – 6,230 youngsters. That was up by about 30% from the previous year, which had 4,793 students.

Participation in northeast Indiana surpassed 400 students, including 267 from Allen County, the program’s enrollment dashboard said.

Officials expect even more participants this upcoming cycle, said Courtney Penn, director of the agency’s Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning.
FWCS Improvement Projects

Fort Wayne Community Schools advances on referendum projects

Fort Wayne Community Schools is spending referendum money to improve schools.

From the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette**
More than $2 million in improvements – including an elementary school expansion – that Fort Wayne Community Schools voters endorsed at the polls three years ago took a step toward reality Monday.

The school board unanimously approved Moake Park Group as the architect/engineer for the Franke Park Elementary School addition. The firm will also serve in the same role for a project addressing entrance vestibule and office security at three other elementary schools.

The projects’ combined estimated construction budget is $2.3 million. The estimated design contract fees total $184,000.

Nearly 73% of voters approved the work in spring 2020 as part of a $130 million referendum that also included major renovations to Wayne High School and Blackhawk and Miami middle schools.

**Note: The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette is behind a paywall. Digital access, home delivery, or both are available with a subscription. Staying informed is important, and one way to do that is to support your local newspaper. For subscription information, go to [NOTE: NEIFPE has no financial ties to the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette]

Note: NEIFPE's In Case You Missed It is posted by the end of the day every Monday except after holiday weekends or as otherwise noted.


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