The City of Lawrenceburg in its infinite wisdom decided to reduce the amount it divvied up between Dearborn County’s three school corporations.
Perhaps that should be rephrased. Lawrenceburg slashed the amount all the way to ZERO from $2 million.
Mayor Dennis Carr said everyone needs to tighten their belts. That is not belt tightening that is a tourniquet.
It also is not a good public relations move when the General Assembly, an equally wise body, is eyeing not only Lawrenceburg’s riverboat casino revenues but everyone else’s and has an eye toward land-based gaming beyond the racinos.
So already cash-strapped South Dearborn and Sunman-Dearborn school corporations are going to be less about $600,000 to work with next year. Lawrenceburg schools aren’t getting the money either.
A couple examples of how the Lawrenceburg money was used include the start of a 1:1 technology initiative and funding of teachers for Project Lead the Way at South Dearborn schools. Past uses for the three corporations include using it to pay Southeastern Career Center fees, the alternative school, and special education.
There also are a lot of students moving back and forth among the three school corporations. While Lawrenceburg Community School Corporation has gained the most students, predominantly from Sunman-Dearborn, South Dearborn High School had a net gain of 10 students due to transfers last year. This school year it had a net loss of two students.
Lawrenceburg schools has gained so many students recently it was on the verge of holding a lottery for transfer students. The lottery was averted this year, but in the future it could be a very real possibility.
For the 2012-13 school year Lawrenceburg schools picked up 90 students from Sunman-Dearborn, and in the 2013-14 school year gained 118 from S-D. All of those transfer students, by the way, are eligible for the free textbook rentals provided through the Lawrenceburg Schools Endowment.
The transfer students are NOT eligible for the Paul E. “Truck” Tremain Scholarship, which is only for residents of Lawrenceburg, Greendale and Lawrenceburg Township and attending Lawrenceburg High School.
South Dearborn and Sunman-Dearborn school endowments use their money, shared as part of the original formula and not tied to the $2 million, to reduce book rental fees.
And for 2014 Lawrenceburg took money off the top of the $2 million being divvied up to give the Lawrenceburg endowment so it could cover the book fees. In the 2015 city budget draft there is a line item for D.C. School Books, I’m sure that’s a typo and is actually just the extra Lawrenceburg schools’ money.
The school corporations already have dealt with decreases in state funding, around $500 per student, and as mentioned above S-D and South Dearborn have declining enrollments.
Sunman-Dearborn is going to close down North Dearborn Elementary School. The board just needs to decide which option for grade configurations to use, and plans more meetings on it.
I understand Lawrenceburg should look after Lawrenceburg, however, Lawrenceburg is not an island. There are cities on either side of it. People working at Hollywood Casino don’t just live in Lawrenceburg. People visiting the casino can’t get there without going through another city or part of the county.
For that matter there are longtime Lawrenceburg city employees who do not live in Lawrenceburg.
While the City of Lawrenceburg has been extremely generous through the years, and with extra scrutiny on the city of late, I repeat that now is not the time to cut what is given to help those outside Lawrenceburg.
One possible remedy to the drastic chopping would be to cut the amount in half, giving each corporation a bit over $300,000.
Dearborn County Council handled the gambling revenue decline in a more diplomatic fashion. During budget talks at the end of August, it warned nonprofits receiving county funds they would be funded for 2015, but no new groups would be added to the mix.
County Council also told the groups that depending on revenues the amount they receive in 2016 could be reduced or eliminated.
County council gave the groups warning and time to make adjustments to their budgets.
If only Lawrenceburg had given the three school corporations the same warning.
Erika Schmidt Russell is editor of The Journal-Press and The Dearborn County Register.