WCCS ponders joining small-school resolution

COLUMBIA CITY — At Monday’s work session of the Whitley Consolidated School Corporation, Superintendent Dr. Patricia O’Connor and corporation Business Manager Tony Zickgraf presented a document to the board that was drafted by the John Glenn School Corporation.The document — a call out to the Indiana Legislature.The Walkerton-based school corporation drafted a resolution to Indiana lawmakers and sent letters to WCCS and other districts around the state.In the letter, the John Glenn board wrote “As you may already know, the John Glenn School Corporation Board of School Trustees has taken issue with the discrepancy among districts in per-student funding.“We feel this, among other issues, needs to be addressed. We have constructed a draft resolution to take to the legislature before they convene next session.”The school officials from Walkerton are seeking a coalition of 50 school districts to sign the resolution before sending it off to Indianapolis.“We would appreciate your participation in preparing the ‘final product’ and invite you to sign the resolution,” said the letter to WCCS.“I think the purpose of the resolution is to educate our legislature,” said O’Connor, saying school officials hope to convince the lawmakers that “one size doesn’t fit all. I think we’re just asking the legislature to consider the smaller districts when decisions are being made.”In the budget for 2010, the state cut school funding across the board and O’Connor told the board that WCCS’s “per-student” cuts were heavier than some districts. The intent of the proposed pact among school corporations is to call on the legislature to remove that funding disparity.John Glenn’s letter and resolution also referred to the state’s funding formula as “complicated and outdated.”The board discussed the possibility of signing the resolution.“The squeaky wheel gets the oil,” said board member Tim Bloom.“Every school’s saying they’re not getting their fair share and I don’t envy the legislature,” said Zickgraf.In late 2009, reports said Indiana schools lost $297 million in 2010.The new legislature meets Jan. 5 and local residents Jim Banks (Senate) and Kathy Heuer (House of Representatives) will begin freshman terms in their respective branches. Coincidently, both members will serve on education committees.After discussing the petition by John Glenn, WCCS Board President Don Armstrong said the board should consider the issue before the next meeting Dec. 20.“I want to think about it,” said Armstrong. “But I also want to think about education in general. We can vote our hearts if we make it an action item.”“I think it is a show of solidarity,” said O’Connor, “but not in an offensive way, but more in a ‘yoo-hoo, we’re small, but we’re out here’ way.