MONROE CO. – Dr. Jeff Hauswald, who is the new superintendent of Monroe County Community School Corporation has been meeting with community groups and individuals over the last year to learn more about his new position and the students, teachers, and faculty members of each of the county’s great schools.
He has released the following statement:
I have quickly fallen in love with the community, and I am very impressed with how supportive the community is of K-12 public education and Monroe County Community Schools. Community support is a huge factor in students’ success.
Last night at a public work session, the Board of School Trustees received additional information from financial advisors to understand more completely MCCSC’s financial health and to gain additional knowledge on the important role referenda funding plays in MCCSC’s school finances.
While my preference is to talk about MCCSC’s incredible student achievement, there are times when it is necessary to discuss school corporation finances. Over the last year or so, the Board of School Trustees and administration have been reviewing our options as the 2016 voter-approved operating levy is set to expire at the end of this year. Working with a variety of experts, we have learned a lot about our situation, such as:
- Since 2010, the MCCSC operating levy has provided $7.3 million annually to support staff salaries and student programs.
- Had that $7.3 million kept pace with inflation, it would have been worth $9.5 million in 2022 – cumulatively, MCCSC could have collected an additional $9 million if we levied a property tax rate instead of a specific levy amount. This scenario has created less capacity in 2022 referendum dollars than existed in 2011.
- State funding has NOT kept pace with inflation either – state increases since 2010 have averaged 2% annually, while the Consumer Price Index has increased by an average annual rate of 2.13%
- Currently, MCCSC tax rates are the 8th lowest in the state, at $0.63 per $100 of the property value (which includes our referendum levy of $0.09 in 2022) – this is significantly less than most school districts our size.
- Without an operating levy, and without budget adjustments, our cash balance would drop below zero in two short years creating a “fiscal cliff” that would likely require educational cuts and wage/salary stagnation.
- Initial surveys and community conversations indicate strong community support for MCCSC and K-12 public education – there is a clear understanding of the value MCCSC provides to Monroe County.
So, we’re going to need to ask our voters for a third operating levy in November of this year. The question is by how much?
To help answer this question, we conducted a community survey last fall where we saw strong support for increasing the levy based on inflation and inadequate state funding. Now we are further engaging the community to make sure we know how much residents can afford and how they would like to see the funding spent. Make no mistake, as one of the lowest school district taxing entities in Indiana, we have proven our goal of being fiscally responsible and only asking for necessary funds. Funds that can keep MCCSC great and meet the high-quality educational expectations set out by our parents, students, and business leaders.
Currently, we have a 25-member Referendum Advisory Committee made up of community members and school staff reviewing our financial situation in detail. Next, principals will be meeting with staff members and at PTO meetings in May to provide information and receive feedback. District administrators will be meeting with community groups and other community members in May as well. Please see our 2022 Referendum website to learn more about the process.
In June, the Board of School Trustees will decide on whether to place a question on the November ballot.
I ask that you choose to learn more about our situation so you can make an informed decision at the polls. Please watch for updates in our district newsletters and attend meetings over the next weeks and months. If you have any questions or comments, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 812-330-7700.