Lakeshore News Tonight

School City Of Munster Referendum Coming May 7th

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The effect of the General Assembly’s 2008 property tax cap decision is being felt in education systems throughout the region.  Many local schools are being forced to choose between raising taxes and making steep cuts.  Lakeshore reporter Renetta Dubose is looking at the three northwest Indiana schools taking a property tax increase referendum to voters.  Here is her report on the Munster referendum…..

Renetta Dubose:  Football…basketball and other extracurricular activities will end for students in Munster schools if the district is not successful in raising property taxes.  Superintendent Richard Sopko says the upcoming referendum will ask voters to approve a 19 point nine cent increase per hundred dollars of assessed valuation.

Richard Sopko: We simply cannot maintain our programs or our standard of excellence on that type of funding.

If the referendum fails…Sopko says Munster Schools will need to cut three point four million dollars from the budget next year and eliminate more than a few sports.

Sopko: We were looking at not having elementary PE, art, music.  Complete cutting of the orchestra program, reducing teachers at each grade level, so class sizes will go up.

Sopko says administrators already took a pay cut…which puts their salaries at two times less than the state target for the positions. Sopko says the cost per student in Munster is 47 hundred dollars while  some districts… especially charter schools… have a per-student cost as high as 89 hundred.  He believes that’s the result of the state shifting its focus to alternative learning and vouchers.

Sopko: 70 percent of charter schools received more funding.  70 percent of public schools receive less funding and Munster is at the bottom of that list.

Munster residents will vote on the referendum next Tuesday, May 7th.  If passed it would raise 3-million dollars per year.  In Merrillville…Renetta Dubose, Lakeshore News.



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