If referendum passes, first $1 million would go to teachers, who haven’t received a raise in 12 years
The Indiana Distressed Unit Appeal Board (DUAB) voted on July 9, 2020 in favor of the Gary Community School Corporation (GCSC) holding a referendum in November that, if passed, would help achieve the long-sought goal of balancing the corporation’s budget.
State law requires that GCSC have a balanced budget for two consecutive years in order to end state oversight. In partnership with the MGT Consulting Group, GCSC officials have decreased the corporation’s deficit from $22 million in 2017 to $6 million as of January 2020.
While the district will continue to reduce costs wherever possible, it’s also necessary to raise revenue in order to build the self-sustaining and high-performing school district. The referendum’s passage would also allow the school corporation to increase salaries for Gary teachers, who have not received a raise in 12 years.
“A balanced budget is the way to end state control, and passing this referendum will help us get there,” said Dr. Paige McNulty, GCSC emergency manager. “It will also allow us to give our teachers a very overdue, and deserved, raise.”
As proposed, the referendum would raise approximately 16 cents a day from the average household in Gary and 47 cents a day from the average business. In total, the referendum would collect approximately $6 million a year, with the first $1 million earmarked for Gary teachers.
The remaining funding from the referendum would help enhance school safety and security, as well as create more opportunities for students to enroll in pre-school and participate in extra-curricular activities, including athletics.
District officials confirmed they made this decision after exploring alternatives and concluding this was the best option available. They acknowledged this path involves an ask from the community, and they pledged that, if the referendum passes, the funding would be made public by transparently posting it on the Gary schools website.
“This referendum would benefit our teachers, our schools, and, most importantly, our students,” McNulty said. “We are asking the community to help invest in our children’s success.”
GCSC recently announced a four-year plan to invest in improving its school buildings. By state law, the funding for those projects is limited to capital expenses, like roof repairs and new playgrounds. By contrast, the funds raised by the referendum would be able to go to operational expenses, such as teacher salaries.
The district is also looking to raise revenue by increasing enrollment. In June, GCSC launched its 2020-21 enrollment campaign to reaching students and families through community outreach, phone calls, social media, billboards, yard signs, and public transportation signage. Interested families can enroll their students online at https://www.garycsc.k12.in.us/EnrollmentForm/ or call 219-881-5466.