A House committee heard testimony on a bill Wednesday that would help the state identify schools facing financial problems. Both Gary and Muncie Schools were taken over by the state last year after their finances reached crisis levels.
But some key pieces of House Ways and Means Committee Chair Tim Brown (R-Crawfordsville)’s legislation have superintendents and teachers concerned. It would allow financially distressed schools to fire up to 5 percent of their teachers mid-year to address budget concerns.
Sally Sloane from the American Federation of Teachers says that would only do more harm to struggling schools.
“Adding uncertainty about even one school year of employment is going to keep new teachers away and could drive the remaining good ones out,” Sloane says.
The legislation would also allow a state board to suspend or revoke a superintendent’s license if their school corporation was flagged for a financial watch list four years in a row.
An amendment was added to the bill which would “allow state educational institutions to establish one or more laboratory schools within a school district or establish a laboratory school district by agreement with a school corporation.”
Muncie Community Schools was put under full state control on Jan. 1. This amendment means Ball State University could assume responsibility for the district.
The university’s President Geoffrey Mearns testified that he supported the amendment, and would seek that control if passed.
Sen. Eddie Melton (D-Gary) also filed a school finance bill, but it has not been heard by a committee yet.