Proposed legislation on school spending causing battle in Clark Co.

Proposed legislation on school spending causing battle in Clark Co.

CLARK COUNTY, IN (WAVE) - A School District in Indiana is in the middle of a battle for signature against community members throughout Clark County.

Greater Clark County Schools wants $22 million for school improvements, but some oppose the property tax rate increase that would result from allowing Greater Clark to borrow the money.

Now, there is a new bill in the Indiana legislature that could completely change the way schools spend money - House Bill 1043.

The bill raises the amount of money Indiana school districts can borrow without taxpayer approval.

"These are our homes, our future children's homes," Christina Yager said. "It's where we live and it's where our kids go to school, and my son is in school."

"The 1043 bill is going to change the amount of money the school can ask for, and it will be much higher than what it is now," Patty Amick said.

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Under current law, if the school district wants to do a project that costs more than $2 million and community members oppose, they can collect signatures to stop it.

That's what's going on right now with the $22 million Greater Clark Schools wants to borrow to undo open concept classrooms at three schools.

Under House Bill 1043, school boards can approve projects up to $10 million dollars and tax payers can't reverse it.

"Legislators around the state are starting to figure out those thresholds are way too low and they are too restrictive" GCCS Superintendent Dr. Andy Melin said.

Superintendent Melin believes House Bill 1043 would make it easier to get projects done.

"We are very sensitive to what we are doing, but when we have the ability to improve facilities we are going to do it right," Melin said.

Melin says school improvement would increase property values, but critics do not agree with the way their money is being spent and say the bill would cause problems.

"Because the school corporation has agreed to spend money in ways that we don't agree with in the past," Bill Hawkins said. "I would say it is irresponsible, very irresponsible."

HB1043 now goes to the senate, and the bid to stop the $22 million dollar project is collecting signatures until March 20th. Whichever side collects more signatures wins their cause.

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