Because of cutbacks on funding, schools across America are hurting badly. The Monroe County Community School Corporation (MCCSC) is no exception.

In response, South Central Indiana Jobs with Justice (JwJ) and the White River Central Labor Council (WRCLC) held a news conference Oct. 14 to express support for a referendum on increasing property tax that, if voted in come November, would allocate funds to compensate for the $5.8 million shortfall that the MCCSC would experience without referendum funding.

"Don’t think of this as a referendum on our taxes; think of it as an investment in our children and our future." - Jackie Yenna, WRCLC
JwJ and the WRCLC, according to JwJ facilitator Milton Fisk, the two organizations have been working hard on this issue for the last two months.

Because of the shortfall, the MCCSC school board has had to eliminate programs for students and enlarge class size. It had to fire teachers and other professionals. Custodial staff faces a hiring freeze.

This situation, according to the 11 union locals and labor council that announced their support for the referendum, mandates a referendum for a special property tax for operating the schools, avoiding budget imbalances in 2011 and the following five years, and filling the vacant teaching positions from 2010.

The referendum would compensate for the state’s shift in school funding sources from local property taxes to state taxes, along with Governor Mitch Daniels’s decision in 2009, as a solution to the diminishing state revenues, to cut $298 million from state funding for schools.


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“Don’t think of this as a referendum on our taxes; think of it as an investment in our children and our future,” said Jackie Yenna, president of the WRCLC.
"I’d like to go one step further, I would like people to support all education-friendly initiatives" - Linda Richardson, Monroe County Education Association
This school tax levy appears as the second public question at the bottom of the ballot in the upcoming election. The referendum requires the collection of no more than 14 cents per $100 of assessed property value for the six years beginning with 2011.

Linda Richardson, president of the Monroe County Education Association, added, “I’d like to go one step further, I would like people to support all education-friendly initiatives … in the best interests of the public good.”

Tom Szymanski, of IBEW Local 725, quoted Samuel Gompers, founder of the AFL-CIO, as saying, in a statement that Szymanski noted is as relevant today as it was when first made some 100 years ago, “What does labor want? We want more schools and less jails, more books and less arsenals, more learning and less fights.” In fact, Gompers continued, labor should exploit the “golden opportunities to cultivate our better natures [and] help make childhood more healthy and more bright.”

Besides the WRCLC’s endorsement of the referendum, the referendum was endorsed by locals of the MCCSC custodial staff, IU clerical and technical staff, IU maintenance staff, GE, letter carriers, MCCSC teachers, electrical workers, city bus drivers, city utilities staff and the Monroe County Public Library staff.

Several other organizations also came out in support of the referendum: League of Women Voters, Bloomington Economic Development Corp. and Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce.

Linda Greene can be reached at lgreene@bloomington.in.us.