Dr. J.T. Coopman
This 2019 General Assembly Session had many twists and turns, but in reality, some good outcomes for Indiana schools. We had anticipated an attack on administrator’s salary, but, fortunately, that did not materialize. However, for the first time in recent memory, IAPSS along with other associations were asked for our input especially on the budget. Late in the session, the associations crafted 10 items of a “must haves” in the budget. When the initial house budget runs came out, it was clear that clean up was required, so another budget run for schools was released, but it revealed significant reductions in complexity funds for students in poverty, which was shocking. The senate version was a much different proposal, but we realized the final outcome would be a compromise between the two houses. The associations were called upon again for input and we were somewhat surprised to learn that our input and support was very important to them. The result was acceptance of all 10 budget items we had proposed along with a higher percent in tuition support for an overall budget in the 4.2 – 4.5 percent increase range. Also, of importance, was a study of the complexity grant dollars during the summer.
IAPSS thanks the legislators for their concerns and willingness to listen and include the associations. We are hopeful this will be the new model moving forward.
A surprise of the session was a bill introduced that lowered the threshold for property tax cap waivers. Since the waivers do not involve state revenue, we could not understand the intent of the bill and it turns out to be a philosophical position. In the end, the effect of the bill was blunted with a transition period to allow districts to prepare for the threshold being lowered over time.
I want to thank our professional development committee, under the chairmanship of Laura Blessing, for arranging a very dynamic spring seminar. We were entertained and learned from Dr. Berry Buddy from Edinburg Ky about how he turned his school district around in a very intentional manner that has dramatically improved student outcomes.
I also want to thank all our district chairpersons for making arrangement for our spring district meetings. We heard from Katie Jenner with Ivy Tech about a program they are creating to create teacher pathways as well other career opportunities with dual credits transferred to Indiana colleges. We heard from Sarah Larrison, with IDOE, about changes in data reporting for our special education populations. And, we heard from Stephanie Wells, with the Indiana Manufacturers Association, about how manufacturers are creating career pathways with paid internships that led to immediate long term, well paid employment under a program entitled Indiana FAME. The meetings concluded with the highlights of the General Assembly made by the Executive Director of IAPSS. The power points from the presentations are located on the IAPSS web site.
Our Sagamore Foundation Scholarships were selected. The Foundation offers two $1,000 scholarships to seniors graduating who are related to our members. One goes to high achieving and involved senior and one goes to a high achieving and involved senior attending college to become a teacher. The Sagamore Foundation Scholarships were awarded to: William Roberson, Son of Mary Roberson, Superintendent of Perry Central Schools. William will attend DePauw University to study astrophysics; the other scholarship was awarded to Amy Evans, daughter of Robert Evans, superintendent NW Shelby County Schools and his wife Tonya. Amy is attending Indiana State University to become a science teacher.
Wishing all Indiana school district superintendents a safe and uneventful end to the school year and great graduation ceremonies.