Letter to the Editor

Education should be top priority of state legislature

To Editor, Newton County Enterprise

Public education has always been, and always will be, the backbone of our country. Public schools are the pillar of a community, especially in small rural towns like ours. These schools allow every child access to a tuition-free education regardless of where they live, their economic status, race or academic ability. Although the education is free to families, our schools rely on state funding in order to provide the best education for our children. The public school funding from the state of Indiana has been insufficient for quite some time. This is why we decided to write this joint letter.

Students in our community deserve a high quality education, opportunities to learn trades and job-specific skills, as well as participate in clubs and organizations they are interested in. In order to do this, we must be able to attract and maintain quality educators. The lack of funding has made it difficult for schools to do this, not just here at South Newton, but across Indiana. Currently, the state legislature is in session and has done very little to address the financial concerns of the public school system. The largest concerns of supporters of public schools are:

When adjusted for inflation, teachers in Indiana make 16% less in 2019 that they did in 2000.

Indiana’s teacher salaries rank last when compared to our neighboring states of IL, KY, MI, OH and WI.

According to an article from Forbes, Indiana is ranked last in the nation for salary growth for teachers from 2002-2017.

The budget proposal during this legislative session (HB1001) includes over an 11% funding increase for charter schools, over 10% increase in the voucher program to attend private schools, and only a 2.2% increase in funding for public schools.

The budget proposal could mean little, if any, money for South Newton in the next two years.

Indiana property taxes enable schools to transport students to and from school and they allow schools to do building projects and upgrades. These dollars cannot be used for teacher salaries, benefits, nor student programs. This means we rely on state funding to compensate and insure our wonderful teachers and staff who provide an exceptional education for our students.

Many of the programs we offer would not be possible without grant funding and our generous community donors, as we do not receive enough money from the state to cover them. Examples include our Innovative CTE Grant (Precision Farming), Robotics Teams, choral and band materials, counseling services, elementary reading teachers, and security equipment.

We are not only bringing these concerns to your attention because of how they affect South Newton, but how they impact public education in Indiana. Our kids have always been and will always be our top priority, and we would hope they would be the top priority of the legislature. We feel the consequences of a lack of state funding will eventually have the greatest impact on them. If we sit back and do nothing to advocate for our schools, we are letting our staff, students, and community down.

How can you help? The following legislators represent South Newton: State Representative Sharon Negele (765) 585-1079 and Senator Rick Niemeyer (317) 232-9400. Please consider contacting them and showing your support of public schools, most importantly South Newton.

Blair DiRuzza

South Newton Classroom Teachers Association President

Casey Hall

Superintendent, South Newton School Corporation