Teachers cleaning their own classrooms and carrying out their trash; high school students crammed 44 to a class, as they are now in a physics class at Bloomington High School North; and the elimination of funding for librarians, art, music, PE and extracurricular activities all could become the norm in Monroe County Community School Corp. schools if the Nov. 2 property tax referendum doesn’t pass, Superintendent J.T. Coopman told members of the Bloomington Press Club Oct. 25.
In the longer term, if Indiana ends up a “referendum state” like neighboring Ohio, the consequences will be more profound, Coopman said. In Ohio, where school funding referendums are routinely used to raise funds, school districts have become divided into haves and have-nots. Those who have passed referendums and have continued to fund quality programming draw families from neighboring communities where citizens have voted against additional funding. The poorer school districts are losing students and, consequently, per pupil funding, compounding issues of equity among students, Coopman said.
Coopman reasoned that if the MCCSC referendum fails, citizens will end up paying much more in juvenile justice costs to rehabilitate students who drop out or lose interest in school than they will in additional property taxes if the referendum passes. And if public schools decline through lack of funding, he said, “businesses leave, people leave, and then a community starts to die on the vine.” Continue reading