State Senator Erin Houchin and District 73 Representative Steve Davisson met with four members of the Salem School Board and the both the assistant and superintendent Tuesday morning to discuss the school’s budget.
In recent months, the school’s budget has been at issue – particularly at odds with teachers who haven’t been receiving raises.
In a meeting with teachers in September, Superintendent Lynn Reed and Assistant Superintendent Kim Thurston gave an overview of the past years’ budgets and financial information and told teachers in attendance that state funding had declined and legislators were at fault for that.
Houchin, who said this morning she (nor Davisson) were invited to that meeting, took issue with a comment from Reed when she noted, ” We’re getting less money for what we can do.”
“That’s not what you said in the meeting,” said Houchin.”What you said, you’re getting less funding. That’s not an accurate statement. When you make statements like… ‘The state is killing us’…’The state is reducing our funding’….that’s not an accurate representation of the facts.”
Both Davisson and Houchin presented figures from the Department of Education that showed Salem Community Schools had received additional funding increases each year since at least 2012.
“That’s not responsible to push that out there in a meeting where the [Indiana State Teacher’s Association] was involved in and we were not. I accept the apology that you and maybe others made a statement that we don’t care. That’s very offensive to a parent of a child. My three children are in a school system you claim I don’t care about. Their teachers are fantastic…they have gotten a great education at Salem,” said Houchin.
Both Reed and Thurston commented that funding had been cut.
“I’m speaking to the fact a public meeting was held with teachers, led in part by the ISTA, that I certainly was not invited to. In that meeting, a statement was made that I don’t care, that Steve doesn’t care, about Salem Community Schools. On the face, that’s ridiculous. Why would I send my kids to school here and not care about the success of the school system where my own children are being educated? That doesn’t pass the laugh test,” noted Houchin.
Reed commented that Houchin and Davisson’s figures included monies for programs, including Special Education, which could not be used for salaries.
“It’s not our responsibility to manage that portion of it,” said Houchin. “Our responsibility is to pass a budget at the state level that adequately funds…that balances [the budget] and doesn’t raise taxes….The state spends roughly 52 percent of its $30 billion budget on K-12 education. That’s more than everything else in the state combined. Higher education gets 12 percent….41 percent of local property taxes goes to Salem Community Schools.”
Another meeting between Houchin and Davisson was set for teachers at 5:30p
Here are the recordings of the earlier meeting.
PART 1 – Down $1 Million
PART 2 – State Funding Increases
PART 3 – Frustrations With Assessments
PART 4 – DOE Dictates To Schools
PART 5 – Professional Development
PART 6 – ISTEP Alternatives
PART 7 – Moving Forward Together
PART 8 – Purchased Services
PART 9 – Giving Up Additional Raises