MUNCIE, Indiana – On the eve of the Muncie School’s Bus Referendum Vote……
If Muncie residents who display “Vote NO” signs in their yards were asked why they would vote for Muncie students NOT to retain bus service, barring political semantics or affiliations, here’s what that hypothetical conversation may look like:
“Did you or your children attend public school?”
No-sign displayer: “Well, yes…”
(Follow up question)- “Why did you (or your children) deserve for your community to make sure you had bus transportation and today’s children of Muncie, do not?”
A vote “No” for the 12A Muncie Community School is saying to the families of Muncie:
“If there is no bus service for the children of Muncie, it’s not my problem.”
It’s the: “It’s not my problem” problem.
If you spend just a few minutes listening at to colleagues at work or a dinner party discuss public interests, public funding deficit shortfalls or reading the social media threads of friends who discuss issues that require a community, state, or an entire nation to consider what’s best for the public interest – you will see this phrase, or similar sentiments time and again.
“It’s not my problem.”
“Don’t like being poor? Well, get a job.”
“I have health insurance. It’s not my problem if others don’t, can’t get it, or get dropped from their policies, etc. etc. etc..”
“Why should we have to pay for other children’s schooling or bus service? We don’t even have children who (currently) attend school.”
Here’s why ALL of this is EVERYONE’S problem.
Poverty is MORE expensive to a community than the those costs accrued to prevent it.
Poverty, lack of education and crime are the Three Musketeers.
Question: Why should YOU care whether children get bus service to school and why should YOU want to take measures like this to lift the children out of poverty in your community – or at least give them a fighting chance?
Because: Maybe you don’t want them to rob you or other members of your community when they grow up, out of desperation?
Because: An entire community invested in you, to make sure you made it to school on a taxpayer-funded bus, at a taxpayer-funded school, or made it possible for you to attend college on a taxpayer-funded scholarship or financial aid, so that you too, could be successful and productive.
Because: Generations prior to you wanted to so you can be a productive member of your community and give back because…….eventually, you and others like you will have to (drum roll please) take care of those who took care of you when they become weak, sick, old, disabled, etc.
One of those things will happen. It’s just a matter of time.
Who will take care of YOU if you don’t take care of THEM ensuring they have a chance to succeed, now?
Referendum 12A calls for an emergency property tax increase of .39 for every $100 of township property value for the next 7 years (beginning in 2014) to cover the cost of busing elementary, middle and high school students. “MCS will lose about 90 percent of its funding for transportation, due to Indiana Circuit Breaker tax caps and the new protected taxes provision.” Michelle Kinsey, Star Press.
Please visit Keep the Bus Running website created by Ty Morton, and a group of concerned Muncie citizens, outlining the referendum in full detail.
This referendum has been met with a lot of skepticism. Muncie Community Schools in the process of restructuring. An announcement has been made that a high school has to close. Even with the closing, MCS reports they simply do not have the funds to cover bus transportation.
These details have been hashed out in the press, blaming MITS for not taking up the responsibility and eating up the costs, even. There have been town hall meetings and the facts and figures are well-known, but what hasn’t truly been addressed is the skepticism stemming from old battles fought. Many point out that MCS has made some unpopular decisions in the recent past (cutting Instructional Assistants while giving administrators a 20% raise in 2009- a decision that was swiftly reversed and course-corrected) But further into the past, old divides between parents and the MCS administration to keep both North Side high school and Riley elementary school open have called into question MCS’s motives, when as an anonymous source points out “We were told in 1987, (pertaining to the closing of North Side High School) that the state will ALWAYS provide funding for buses, no matter what.”
That was nearly 3 decades ago. What has changed and where has THAT guaranteed money gone?
It is fair to say the money simply is not there, even after restructuring, to cover the cost of bus transportation unless revenue is produced.
The Indiana Circuit Breaker tax caps implemented have hurt Indiana public education in a profound way, and are a direct attempt to privatize public education, cutting many school systems‘ budgets off at the knees, rendering them ineffective and without proper resources to care for their students’ educational needs.
Some Muncie residents are skeptical that the money Referendum 12A provides will be diverted to other areas, and not bus transportation. Some residents have multiple properties, don’t have children who attend Muncie Schools (either they attend other school systems or go to private schools).
Some Muncie residents feel as though they pay enough in taxes, that they pay more than their fair share, as the tax base in Muncie is shrinking.
Muncie resident, Michelle Martin: “I’m a stay-at-home mom with six kids. My husband leaves for work early and sometimes works out-of-town, so I am home alone to get the my oldest two sons to school. They attend Westview Elementary. We don’t live far from the school but we don’t live within walking distance. We depend on the bus transportation.” Martin’s children would have to walk through high-traffic areas, Godman and Jackson Streets to get to school.
Muncie resident, Jama Robbins points out that there is a disproportionate number of sexual predators living within Muncie and children walking to school is just downright dangerous.
Many of you may have received mysterious “Just the Facts, please” notices in your doors at about 6 or 7 pm this evening (Monday, Nov. 4th 2013) that urge the public to vote down the referendum.
Keep in mind there are no cited sources anywhere on this document.
Here’s an actual list of figures, state by state revenue, expenditures, states’ per capita income, teachers’ and administrators’ salaries, transportation costs, etc. provided by the National Education Association.
The first two facts, aside from the referendum and school system, highlight the blatant austerity (income inequality) within Muncie, actually making the overwhelming case to vote the referendum through, as the poverty-stricken families in Muncie need bus service for the children the most.
Mystery Origin- Claim #1- “MCS district has the 2nd highest poverty rate in the state of Indiana and 75% of its students are on free or reduced lunches. Yet MCS wants to further burden poverty-stricken families with more taxes.”
Mystery Origin- Claim *2- “MCS is the 76th out 92 counties in the state of Indiana in per capita income and 90th of 92 counties in the state in median income. Yet MCS wants to further burden the local income-challenged families with more taxes.”
Malarkey. These are a half-truths. Muncie residents ARE economically depressed, but THIS IS WHY THE REFERENDUM TO SAVE BUS SERVICE IS SO IMPORTANT TO THEM. That must be why most of the “Vote No” signs are in advantaged portions of Muncie and a significant portion of the “Vote Yes” signs are in more economically depressed sections of Muncie. Take a look around.
Ironically, the claims made in this document are specifically and disingenuously targeted toward lower-income families, that live in economically depressed areas or pay rent, so any increase in taxes to them will be minimal, particularly those in Section 8 housing.
This Hail (Scary) Mary letter provides no cited sources for any of the claims made to strike down the referendum and are counting on citizens to take these claims at face value and not do any actual research themselves. The most striking false remark, cloaked in formal language is the Circuit Breaker losses NOT being responsible for educational shortfalls. They are not responsible for all educational shortfalls, just the public shortfalls. (The funneling of taxpayer monies to charter, parochial, and private school in the form of vouchers has leached money from public education)
Here’s the claim that omits the new Indiana “choice” initiative-educational vouchers that siphon off public education funding:
“HEA 1072 DOES NOT change how circuit break credits and tax bills are calculated and it does not increase in total a taxing unit’s circuit breaker revenue loss. There has been no legislation since the implementation of the tax caps that has negatively affected or reduced MCS’s overall tax revenues. HEA 1072 simply shifts how circuit breaker credits (property tax cap credits) are applied for budget certifications to keep taxing units from raiding debt and pension funds. Since the tax caps have been fully implemented in 2010, there has been no change in them. MCS’ tax cap (circuit breaker credits) have been computed and imposed exactly the same way every year. ”
Again, there are no sources cited for any of the claims made.
Get out there tomorrow and vote.
Don’t count on the referendum passing or being stuck down, which ever you decide – without your support.
Photograph; Aimee Fant- Muncie Voice