CCSC superintendent discusses proposed state funding changes


A lot of tinkering.

That is how Crawfordsville Community Schools Superintendent Dr. Scott Bowling described how the state legislature is handling the next two-year state budget.

On Thursday, Bowling gave school board members an update on the legislative session, which has reached the halfway mark, during their regular monthly meeting at Crawfordsville Middle School.

Bowling said the state recently released its first formula run to show schools what they can expect.

“If it passes as it is right now, the headline will be an 8.5% increase for schools,” Bowling said. “The problem with that is, if you remember the governor proposed the state pay for textbooks, that’s in the 8.5%, that’s not a separate deal, so that decreases that 8.5%.”

The state plan also would give $240 million additional dollars — a 70% increase— in the voucher program.

“When you get down to it, the real increase is less than 5%,” Bowling said. “So, when I run our numbers specifically it looks like a 5% increase in year one and a 1.6% increase in year two, if it passes as is. The tough part of that is that inflation is running over 6%.”

Bowling is hopeful that legislators will give more funding to schools because “this isn’t even covering inflation.”

Without more funds, providing raises and paying for non-classroom expenses will be difficult.

“Within those increases I mentioned, there’s less money for kids in poverty, but more money for kids who are in special education or who are in CTE programs or who EL, so just lots of ‘we don’t think this should get as much and this should.’ It’s more tinkering than I’ve ever seen.”

Bowling said there is one positive takeaway, and that is the state’s efforts to equalize school operations funding.

“They are looking to equalize what schools receive in their operations fund, so they are looking at schools like ours and noticing we get way less than North and South and are trying to put a mechanism in to our regular funding to make up for that difference ... but that’s how we get to 5%. That operations equalization is the biggest part of how we get to 5%, it’s not a straight increase in per pupil funding.”

In other business, the school board:

• Accepted the settlement and terms regarding the
national class action lawsuit against electronic cigarette manufacturer Juul. CCSC was one of thousands of school districts nationwide to join the lawsuit last year that alleged Juul targeted its products toward teens, with fruity flavors and young models.

In December, Juul settled more than 5,000 cases brought by 10,000 plaintiffs for $1.5 billion. By joining the suit, the local school corporation is expected to receive a monetary payout in the coming months. The payout amount to CCSC was not disclosed, but school administrators said any funds received after legal fees would be used for education and tobacco use prevention measures.

• Approved the purchase of three 84-passenger buses for the 2023-24 school year in the amount of $522,528. Buses are ordered annually and financed to maintain the district’s transportation fleet.

• Approved with no changes the CHS and elementary school handbooks for the 2023-24 school year.

• Approved the 2024-2025 calendar. School will continue to start the second week of August and be concluded before Memorial Day. Graduation will be May 30, 2025.

• Approved the annual eighth grade field trip to Springfield, Illinois, where students visit the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, which includes the home and related historic district where Abraham Lincoln lived before becoming the 16th president of the U.S.  The next trip will be Oct. 11.

• Approved a memorandum of understanding between the school corporation and the Montgomery County Youth Service Bureau as it pertains to sharing contact information for students enrolled in the alternative school.

• Approved a memorandum of understanding between the school corporation and Hendricks Regional Health-Sports Medicine for athletic training services for the next three years, effective July 1.

• Discussed proposed changes to three board policies relating to board meeting participation, board member compensation and electronic participation by board members in board meetings. The measures will be voted upon at the April board meeting.

In personnel matters, the board accepted the resignation of Brandy Fergason, a Hose aide. The board also accepted the hiring of Wakako Greiner as Japanese teacher at CHS and Samantha Raspopovich and Molly King as special education teachers at CMS. Bowling noted that Greiner is currently working for the district but was still considered an employee at Southmont with Crawfordsville paying her salary to South schools.

• Learned bonds will be sold March 15 for the new administration building project. The district hopes to break ground this summer on the facility adjacent to the high school. Construction is expected to take one year.

• Learned the district is continuing to explore the creation of a cooperative building trades program with North Montgomery, Southmont, and Western Boone school districts. Bowling said interest is high and it would give students another opportunity to explore a skilled trade career. The districts hope to offer this program in the fall.

• Learned Crawfordsville, North Montgomery and Southmont school officials are discussing leaving the Sagamore Athletic Conference and partnering with the school districts in Putnam County to form a new conference. Bowling said the catalyst for the discussions is the rapid growth and changing demographics at Lebanon, Danville, and Tri-West school districts.

• Learned the elementary swim program will be restarted.