More discussion, data needed about referendum

To the editor:

Superintendent Shaffer’s column titled “School financing 101” published in the Feb. 24 issue of The Democrat provided an excellent introduction to government fund accounting. I appreciate his honesty in sharing his perspectives regarding the effectiveness and morality of education and fiscal policy.

Declining enrollments which result in decreased funding have an impact on all districts and not just the rural ones. The Indianapolis public schools have made similar arguments in addressing their funding challenges that include competition with school choice options such as charter schools and voucher programs.

I understand the belief that “education delivered to smaller populations is superior to large-enrollment schools.” The fact is that large-enrollment schools do and can provide a quality education.

The law does allow voters an opportunity to decide policy at the local level and to choose the best options for their community. If voters are continually being asked for more school funding via referendums, it’s possible that it could lead to demand for change in policy at the state level.

Accepting the constraints of the current law and policy and assuming declining enrollments and an economic environment that is not likely to lead to increased enrollments, I would like to see an analysis of alternatives before I would decide that a tax increase (likely to be recurring) on property owners will always be the best and only option for ensuring Brown County students receive the best education possible.

A public meeting on the referendum would be helpful.

Tim Clark, Nashville

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Sara Clifford has been raising a family in Brown County since 2005 and leading the Brown County Democrat since late 2009. In addition to editor, she is the beat reporter for town government and writes columns, features and general news stories.