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Oregon-Davis schools are facing a financial crisis. Because of the way funding for Indiana schools now works, Oregon-Davis is forced to ask the community for the funds to keep the school going. Most community members know this, but they are confused by the particulars of it. WKVI tried to explain it, but did more harm than anything. And let's face it, trying to understand anything that has to do with taxes is a pretty "taxing" event all on its own. So, I did some research and I interviewed Dr. Disney myself to get some answers to questions I (and the majority of the community) had. I'm going to try to break it down so that you too can understand what's really going on.

Why is Oregon-Davis low on funds?
First off, you have to understand that school funds work much different from your home budget. Every grant or allocation they get goes into a specific category. The funds in a category can ONLY be used for that category. It would be like you separating your bill money at home, only if you ran short on rent, you are not allowed to take money from the credit card fund. Oregon-Davis is low on the general fund, which serves to pay bills, salaries, supplies etc.

The school used to be funded in part by a tax levy. Mitch Daniels and the General Assembly discontinued that funding in 2008, telling schools that they needed to pass referendums instead. Then, the Governor managed to lose some $320, 000, 000 that was supposed to go to schools. Eventually, yes they did find it, but that money still won't go to Indiana schools. Next, the General Assembly changed the school funding formula. Another 10% was cut from Oregon-Davis schools. That cut went into effect in January of 2012.

As you can see, there has been a lot of taking of funds from the state. If there is poor money management as all the signs would try to convince you, it's not by OD, but by the state. (Please tell me how you lose over 300 million dollars?!)

What has Oregon-Davis done to correct their budget?
Now, if you or I lose a financial resource, we have to try to adjust our budget. Oregon-Davis is no different.

They have eliminated the school pension debt. They have dropped transportation costs. They refinanced the mortgage and reduced the interest from 5% to 2.3%. They are the leader in the area when it comes to New Tech, which saves on supplies for students, teachers, and administrative staff. They eliminated 5 positions. A salary freeze is in place, though the staff is still required to meet their continuing education requirements.

What are the financial implications?
I'm not going to throw around a lot of terms and dance around the issue. I imagine that most people heard the term "19%" and started seeing their bank accounts drain. Let's be clear here. That is 19% on every $100 worth of property assessed. That's not 19% on every dollar. If you own $100 worth of property, your tax rate goes up $.19, not $19.00. There's a big difference.

But even that is not completely accurate. Due to some of the refinancing that the school has done, you're actually going to be looking at an extra $.07 on every $100 worth of property. Because of standard deductions, if you have $200,000 worth of property, your net tax rate will increase by $68.43.

What happens if the referendum doesn't pass?
If the referendum passes, Oregon-Davis will continue as they are. But let's assume the worst case scenario. If the referendum doesn't pass, students may find themselves attending schools in a different corporation. With the change in attendance also comes the change in where your taxes go.

The state average rate of property taxes that go to schools is $1.18. Oregon-Davis is $.9207 and with referendum, will increase to $.9907. Knox is at $1.1132 and North Judson-San Pierre is at $1.1103.

So, even with the referendum, Oregon-Davis still has the lowest rate in the county. If you vote no, and Oregon-Davis is no more, you'll actually end up paying more than you would have with the referendum.

Basically, this is a no-brainer. Vote for the referendum and you'll still have the lowest tax rate in the county. Vote against the referendum and you'll have to explain to your kids why you would rather pay more money to send them to a school outside of their community.

14 comments:

  1. I've been attending Oregon-Davis ever since I was I kindergarten. I'm a junior now. This school is more than just a school. To me, it's like a second home. You really get to connect with the staff. They aren't just teachers, they're friends.
    It was at this school that I met my best friends. It's here that I've grown up. It's here that my class was one of the first to experience New Tech. It's this school, where I always wanted my future kids to get their education.
    Thank you for posting this, so Parents & the Community understand what's REALLY going on.

  1. PLEASE SAVE OD!!!

  1. I totally relate to you. I have been there since kindergarten & I am a junior as well, whoever you are... You took the words right out of my mouth! I love Oregon-Davis! Go Bobcats!! :)

  1. Very well written!!!!

    VOTE YES!

  1. Please save.OD!!

  1. There are some things in this post that are true, but there is also a lot of misinformation. Let me give you a bit of advice. It is unwise to base your decision on what Dr. Disney has to say about this because if the referendum doesn't pass, he will be out of a job. The state wants to consolidate ADMINISTRATION with schools under 1000, and that would mean eliminating 2 of the 3 superintendents from Starke Co. and ending up with only 1. This would also mean eliminating admin staff as well, which will save big time $. Plus, with the 3 schools purchasing power as 1 entity, they will save a lot of $ as well when they purchase basic supplies and other school essentials. As for the New Tech deal, did your research include how much they had to pay to buy into the New Tech methodology? $400,000. That was just for the "privilege" of using the New Tech name. What about the remodeling that had to be done to set the school up for New Tech ($600,000 was the figure I heard)? All without taxpayer approval. There was a huge outlay of $ during the time right before and during the first New Tech year. Some of it was indeed through grants, but not nearly all of it. I'm not saying New Tech isn't a good idea or beneficial, but don't close your eyes to the cost of training people, tech supplies, tech support when things break down (and tech ALWAYS breaks down) and just buying into the New Tech system. Saving the cost of a ream of paper but having to purchase a new computer doesn't exactly balance out. Has the school been giving New Tech tours to teachers from other schools? How much money is brought in by those tours? I believe Rochester charged $125 per person for a day's tour of their facilities. All the OD staff went to tour Rochester the year before New Tech (in addition to the previously stated startup expenses). Is there money coming in from those tours that isn't being considered? When it comes to the government monies that were misplaced by the state, they were NOT ALL supposed to go to schools by a long shot. Yes, a portion of it was earmarked for schools, but in no way was it all. You made it sound like it was ALL taken from the schools. Also, some of that WAS given back to the schools (or will be soon, not sure of the time table). Ah, the pension debt. Yes, OD gained a lot of money with that move because the teachers' retirement was basically cut in half. It was a very raw deal for OD teachers, actually. Perhaps a question you should be asking is, why can other school corporations make it with the money the state gave them but OD can't (state funds are allocated per student so OD gets the same per student as any other school)? What is OD doing differently that makes it impossible to continue on without more funds when other school corps have been given equal amounts per student by the state and are succeeding? The reason the state requires a referendum for major school expenses now is to give taxpayers more of an ability to state their opinions on additional monies the school wants to raise via taxes. I think that's a great idea that now the people can voice their opinion on whether they want to pay more taxes instead of merely having it forced upon them whether they think it's a good idea or not. It might be wise for the OD community to do your own research through a non-biased third party interview, with someone whose job is not on the line (do you really expect Dr. Disney to say OD doesn't need the referendum money?). Try to find someone else who has the facts on the other side of the story before you form your opinion. The research the author of this blog post did was obviously 1-sided. I think taxpayers deserve to hear BOTH sides and should take the responsibility of hearing both sides before you make an educated decision. (Again, a meeting run by Dr. Disney and his chosen speakers should hardly be considered unbiased.) It doesn't matter to me which way you vote, but vote out of knowledge, not out of ignorance.

  1. I wouldn't believe anything someone wrote on the internet and they didn't sign their name.

  1. VOTE YES!!!!

  1. It seems we are going to pay more taxes either way, but the higher tax will be if we vote no & consolidate. O.D. is without a doubt the better school. Let's give our children the better education & pay the lower tax rate. Vote YES.

  1. Thanks for reading everyone! I hope you do vote yes!

    Now, to the commentor with the very long response. My only source was not Dr. Disney. And in fact, all he did was present some facts and figures and answered some questions for me. He did not try to sway me one way or the other. I write for a living and my research is ALWAYS from more than one source. That's why I have a pile of financial report on my desk right now.

    I do appreciate you presenting some questions here. Maybe it's possible for me to answer some.

    Why are other schools able to keep afloat? I'm not really sure which answer best fits. Maybe because their taxes are already higher than ours? Maybe some schools aren't able to keep afloat and that's why teachers are getting laid off all over Indiana? And then there is the quality to consider. When I drop my son off at O-D, I don't have to look at graffiti or any of the other problems some of the underfunded schools have.

    Combine administrations? Do you know why any other school administration wants to have a part in O-D? One word: basketball.

    If your household was underfunded and you really excelled in an area that someone else wanted to reap the benefits of, would you simply move your family in with theirs? This is no different. If administrations combine, it may be time to homeschool (and I will personally help families get on track to do this)or start a freeway school.

  1. Thank you for writing this!

  1. Did you get your education from Oregon-Davis. You'd be a great model for the type of education they offer. 19% of $100 is not 0.19. And I hate to break it to you, but to homeschool you'd have to be able to pass a basic test. And with that math skill I'm not so sure you could pass.

    I'm sure you did a lot of research, but maybe you should ask someone from Glenn to tutor you in math before you go explaining it incorrectly.

    I'm not disagreeing with the 0.19, i'm disagreeing with your explination of 19%. 19% on every dollar of 100 dollars is still 19 dollars.

  1. Thank you for reiterating my point about the $.19. Although, I'm not sure you understand the policy. But, you are a perfect example. And you might want to do your research. In the state of Indiana there is no test that has to passed to homeschool. The only obligation at all is an attendance requirement, proof of which might be requested by the district. If your kind of attitude and lack of information is supposed to represent what comes out of Glenn, then I am ever more grateful that the referendum passed.

  1. Kathy,
    I express my gratitude and admiration for your support of the welfare system. I to believe in financing the underprivileged.!!!!!

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