Rep. Hatcher on help for Gary Community School Corporation

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INDIANAPOLIS – State Representative Ragen Hatcher (D-Gary) today released the following statement regarding House Enrolled Act 1065, which outlines various tax matters, including the distribution of referendum money to public and charter schools.

“I am pleased the General Assembly enacted legislation that outlines a process for the Gary Community School Corporation to renovate current schools, demolish unsafe and outdated buildings, and provide security for unused but still usable facilities. I was disappointed, however, that the same bill allows for-profit charter schools the ability to receive funding from a local public school district’s tax referendum. I could not support the bill as a result of this provision.”

This provision was a late addition to a bill that had otherwise bipartisan support.

“It's regrettable that Republicans thought it was appropriate to apply this poor policy to a bill that would have greatly improved the status of public schools and especially Gary schools, where students and teachers are really hurting right now.”

According to the provision, if a referendum is successfully voted for by taxpayers, the distribution of its funds would be determined by the local school board. However, in the case of Gary's public schools, which are currently under state control, the distribution of funds would be determined by the Distressed Unit Appeal Board (DUAB).

DUAB consists of select members from the School Board of Education, the Department of Education and other relevant organizations, as well as appointed nonvoting members from the General Assembly. As of now, two-thirds of its General Assembly members are Republicans.

DUAB has both the ability to determine if there will be a referendum in an election year and how much money charter schools will receive from that referendum.

“I do not feel comfortable allowing a body of people who have a history of lending favors to charter schools the ability to make decisions that could limit funding opportunities for the schools in my community. That simply does not sit well with me.”

This legislation was recently signed into law by Governor Holcomb.

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