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February 22, 2013

Washington schools to lose due to less students

WASHINGTON — Washington schools are looking at a revenue cut of about $300,000 due to students leaving schools.

As explained at Thursday’s Washington School Board meeting, Superintendent Daniel Roach said 100 students have left local schools since official counts were taken last September.

While not an issue in the past, student counts are now even more important because the state is now counting twice a year, once in September and another count that took place earlier in February. According to Roach, that count will cause funding to go down.

“It becomes problematic because the bills don’t change,” Roach said.

The revenue has been cut in the past, Roach said, in the school’s bus replacement fund. The fund will have $4,556 in it. This is not the first cut Washington schools have seen. Roach said due to property tax reform, local schools had $900,000 cut from its budget. That money has not returned.

The loss in children, Roach said, may be due to the finished construction of the Edwardsport coal gasification plant. Almost all of the students lost have transferred to schools out of the local area or out of state.

“I have to believe that economics have something to do with it,” Roach said.

Roach told board members and those in the audience to contact their state legislators to keep money in schools. Currently, the Indiana House budget increases funding for schools and roads, while Gov. Mike Pence wants an income tax cut.

“It is something we are definitely going to track,” Roach said. “I believe that we are offering a very good product, but you have to have funds to operate it,” Roach said.

One idea that has been used statewide to increase revenue is an additional tax voted on through a referendum.

Barr-Reeve schools have a referendum on the table for voters this May. Roach said Washington schools will not have a referendum any time soon.

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