Indiana bill would increase spending limits for school systems - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Indiana bill would increase spending limits for school systems

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JEFFERSONVILLE, In. (WDRB) – A bill making its way through the Indiana legislature would increase borrowing limits for school systems.

House Bill 1043 has already moved through the House with little opposition and a 98-2 vote in favor on the floor.

“This is something important and significant for educators throughout the entire state of Indiana,” said Greater Clark County Schools Superintendent Dr. Andrew Melin.

The bill would essentially raise the amount school districts can borrow without any taxpayer approval.

Right now, a district can spend up to $2 million on a project without any public input. The bill would increase that threshold to $10 million.

Greater Clark County Schools have been embroiled in a battle with much of the public for years about funding for schools. The system is currently trying to gather more signatures than the public in order to fund $22 million in improvements at Northaven Elementary School, Charlestown Middle School and River Valley Middle School.

Back in 2015, the school board tried to push through a more than $100 million referendum to improve school safety and infrastructure. That measure overwhelming failed when it came time to a public vote.

“Right now, they can go to $2 million and not answer to anybody," said Bill Hawkins who is against the bill. "Now, they'll be able to go to $10 million each time."

Hawkins says he’s concerned about using the money for non-essential projects as well as the increased tax to property owners in Clark County.

“There's got to be some common ground here, and I think we can come to it," Hawkins said. "But unfortunately, we haven't gotten a lot of transparency from the school district."

In addition to increasing the spending threshold for public approval, the bill would also increase the interval for which a school system is required to enter into the remonstration process. Right now, the public can oppose a project priced between $2 million and $10 million by collecting signatures for a petition. The bill would increase that range to $10 million to $20 million.

House bill 1043 still has to be voted on in the Indiana Senate before becoming law. 

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