The Washington Times-Herald

Columns

May 14, 2014

Perception matters in school funding votes

INDIANAPOLIS – Ball State University economist Michael Hicks had some unwelcome news when he met with leaders of the scenic Ohio River town of Madison last summer, after they asked his advice on growing their community.

Despite a long list of assets, ranging from a strong manufacturing base to an abundance of recreational opportunities, he found the community had a weak link: Its underperforming schools, measured by metrics and perception.

Hicks, who crunches those kind of numbers in his role as head of BSU’s Center for Business and Economic Research, warned the lack of confidence had consequences.

Last Tuesday, that prediction came to pass: Madison voters overwhelming turned down a $40 million referendum request from its school district. The money, to be raised with an increase on property taxes, would have gone toward major construction projects, including a new high school gymnasium.

Out of the 10 school referenda on the ballot Tuesday across the state, Madison was the only one that lost. The vote wasn’t close: 73 percent of voters said no, including one local Democratic activist who told the local newspaper she asked everyone she knew to do the same.

Post-election, Hicks’ analysis found that most of the successful referenda were in districts with schools rated high for academic performance and/or moving up on their benchmarks. Only two wanted more money for construction projects; the rest were to boost school operating or transportation funds – both areas hit by past cuts from the state.

Hicks’ conclusion: Taxpayers are ready to invest more in schools, but they want to see value – especially when it comes to putting more money into bricks-and-mortar.

“It’s easy to go to taxpayers and say, ‘we’re doing a good job and we’ll get better if we have extra resources,’ “ said Hicks. “It’s hard to go to taxpayers and say, ‘we’re not doing well, but we need this money to get better.’ But it’s extraordinarily hard to make the argument, ‘we can’t get the classroom right but we’re going to ask for a lot more money to build a new gymnasium.’”

Text Only
Columns
  • Letter: Sex is clearly defined Sex is clearly definedEditor:I say “Amen” to Pastor Showers’ letter to the editor. Sex in its pureness is only between one man and woman in the bonds of marriage, till death do they part. No others on the side.Man lying with man, woman lying with wom

    July 18, 2014

  • Hobby Lobby court ruling a right one for religious freedom The Supreme Court recently issued a ruling that marked an important development in the ongoing national debate on religious freedom.In a 5-4 decision, the Court ruled that the contraception coverage mandate, imposed by the Obama Administration under

    July 17, 2014

  • Good work DCH for helping vets Good work DCH for helping vetsEditor:On behalf of the veteran organizations of Daviess County, we wish to take this opportunity to recognize Daviess Community Hospital’s CEO David Bixler for the representation of our community hospital and the servic

    July 17, 2014

  • I am proud to fight against the 'War on Coal I recently signed on as an original cosponsor to a bipartisan bill led by one of my Democrat colleagues from West Virginia that would stop the newly released Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations on existing coal-generated power plants.He

    July 16, 2014

  • EPA regulations are very bad for District 63 The coal industry has played an integral role in our nation’s history, and District 63 is very close to the heart of it all. Information on the Institute of Energy Research’s website reveals that from a global standpoint, the United States has the la

    July 16, 2014

  • Update from Veale Creek Players Update from Veale Creek PlayersEditor:Veale Creek Players just finished the second week of the children’s summer camp with a pizza cast party. All parents and friends of our future actors/actresses were invited and enjoyed being part of the Veale Cre

    July 16, 2014

  • James bears the weight of Cleveland's championship dreams LeBron James has done it all on a basketball court. He’s a great scorer, rugged defender, proven big-play leader and champion. But that might not be enough in Cleveland, where he’ll also need the powers of Merlin the Magician.In returning to his home

    July 16, 2014

  • Say yes to the dress (at least at some point) Next month, the beloved boyfriend and I will celebrate two years of togetherness. For me, this is a huge milestone and for him, well, I guess this illustrates how patient and tolerant of my quirks he is (or maybe that’s the other way around. Remember

    July 12, 2014

  • Moving towards a better tomorrow This past week a federal judge ruled Indiana’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, but in Daviess County there were no wedding bells ringing for same-sex couples. Despite receiving an email from the Indiana Attorney General’s office advising coun

    July 5, 2014

  • Clerk owes public an apology Clerk owes public an apologyEditor:I read the account from Daviess County, stating that the county clerk had refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples based on her biblical beliefs and unclear direction from the state government. Regardl

    July 3, 2014