Friday, September 08, 2006

Working Session with Plan Commission and School Supt.s 6 September 2006

Highlights of the Plan Commission Working Session with County School Superintendents on 6 September 2006 at the Dearborn Adult Center

Plan Commission Members present:
Hall, Ohlmansiek, Kraus, Jr., Laws, Feiss.
Absent: Mitter, deMaynadier, Held, and Hughes.

Also present: Mark McCormack, Planning Director.
Sunman Dearborn – John Roeder
South Dearborn- Tom Book and Bob Rollins
Lawrenceburg- Dan Kuebler and Pam Taylor

Plan Commission had studies from South Dearborn and Sunman Dearborn to review later.

1. PC asked about how development plans affect student teacher ratios and how funding is determined.
Answer- money is based directly on number of students. They send in an average each year. Local formulas for funding are different. (State revenue and property tax revenue are used differently)
2. Kuebler noted that L-bg could handle about 150 more students if they are spaced out over K-12.
3. Sunman Dearborn has had to add a few to classrooms beyond what they would want for optimal teacher student ratios.
4. Book noted that if more expensive homes are built they expect fewer kids in those homes of school age.
5. Roeder made it clear that when a school board member speaks at PC hearing they are speaking on a personal level and not for the board.
6. Bus routes are bid every 4 years and readjusted as students add or subtract.
7. PC would like to see letters that give current enrollment, student teacher ratios, and available space. Perhaps even give out their 5-year projections so PC can try to keep track.
8. Kuebler noted they could have buildings and space but not enough local funding to get teachers! This would involve increasing the property tax.
9. Average student costs about $4,000.
10. When they do all day kindergarten each K only counts as ½ a student.
11. Superintendents meet with each other quite often- monthly at least.
12. Schools don’t mind public use of facilities but need to charge enough to cover the maintenance and utilities for those events.
13. Redistricting is seen as an unpopular and political hot button issue by the superintendents. (Despite the fact that numerous members of the public expressed strong interest at master plan hearings.)
14. HVL seen as an area needing to be redrawn to reflect the community. Kids on buses longer to SD than if they go to L-bg. But again- politics!
15. Rollins noted that sidewalks can cut bus costs so kids can congregate on blocks rather than all spread out.
16. Sunman Dearborn does NOT accept tuition paying students. L-bg and SD do.
17. If schools don’t raise property taxes they lose state funding also.
18. US 50 traffic and lack of sewers is hurting South Dearborn’s growth.
19. PC member Laws noted that if sewers were out there on west side it would even out development.

20 Roeder said they (the county schools) need more commercial development.


Laws said we are working on a fiscal impact model.

Kuebler said they get nervous in their area because of tax abatements.

One of the superintendents said TAX ABATEMENTS AND TIFs DESTROY THE SCHOOLS. [NOTE: I about fell out of my chair when I heard that. Where were these people when the TIFs were being set up?]

Kuebler noted they took a $2.5 million hit from their tax issue.

Rollins stated that TIF districts destroyed the Brownsburg schools.

I asked them if they’d talked to the Redevelopment Commission about this. Three of them turned to me and said YES.

Kuebler said he also made an elaborate presentation to L-bg Council about business abatements hurting schools.

[NOTE: Did the Redevelopment Commission ignore this input? Is it possible that they are being so short sighted about landing a business or industry that they lose sight of long term objectives and quality of life?]

21. State formula sets tuition rates – there is a 7 page funding formula reflecting what happens with rates of change in student population. This was in response to a question about whether or not it could hurt school funding if they developed too fast around them. It appears it can happen if they increase too fast or decrease too fast. [NOTE: I’d really like to see this part explained in layman’s terms and in relation to our county specifically when they do the fiscal impact studies.]

22. They consider a rule of about 7 kids in 10 homes.

23. State changes funding rules mid term sometimes. Affects Sunman and South Dearborn mostly as they get 2/3 funding from state. L-bg is mostly local.

24. Tom Kent wanted to know how much info they want and will use from the school districts. He said his 260 homes would require 2 buses at $50,000 each, but the houses would bring in $580,000. [NOTE: That’s 182 students at 7 per 10 homes. 182 x $4,000 per student is $728,000. That’s still not paying for the estimated students.]

25. Debbie McQueen asked- what are we willing to sacrifice education-wise to accommodate growth? Miller Township has killer tax rates. We will be like Cincinnati 15 years from now- unable to bus or provide extracurriculars. The bottom line is that high-density development has a BIG impact on schools.

26. Linda Mitchell asked- are you happy with your student –teacher ratios?
Tom Book said they aren’t alarmed yet. With aides they average 18-20/ staff.
Kuebler is not happy at all with his ratios.
Roeder said they were as high as 22-32 using aides.
Mitchell wanted to know if it was possible to set a level so as not to tax retirees off their land. Maybe create a redline- critical number for classrooms and ratios and perhaps control taxes by using that number in granting permits and development.

Meeting adjourned at 8:40 PM

Christine Brauer Mueller
Lawrenceburg Township

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