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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Fowler: Schools supporting each other

Friday, May 22, 2009

The Clay Community Schools Building Corporation representative Bert Geswein presented the deeds to Northview High School and Clay City Jr./Sr. High School to Clay Community School Board of Trustees President Brian Atkinson Thursday. The total bond issue for both buildings totaled $33,920,000 with the final payment being made in January. Kimberly Gleason Photo. [Order this photo]
During the regular meeting of the Clay Community School Board of Trustees it was shown schools at both ends of the county have a symbiotic relationship.

Business Manager Mike Fowler gave a report to the board in regards to the much-debated topic of where the money goes within the Clay Community School Corporation. The results were about sharing. The northern portion of the county, typically considered property north of Interstate 70, has more resources to support their buildings due to the relationship with the southern portion of the county. The southern portion of the county is typically considered property south of Interstate 70 and has more resources to support their educational programs because of the relationship with the north. Both sides support each other.

"I honestly went into this approach with no preconceived bias," Fowler said. "I just went where the facts lead me and it is what it is."

Fowler looked at the property taxes by township and analyzed the expenditures for the south. He looked at the state basic grant, which is where the overwhelming majority of money for teacher salaries and educational programs comes from. The third component of his analysis involved the state special education funding, which included the revenues and expenditures from the southern portion.

He also studied the information presented by CCSC Board Member Forrest Buell at the April meeting. Fowler contacted the auditors in Clay County and Parke County to receive the most up to date figures for the 2008 Pay 2009 total assessed value, tax rate and dollars generated. The tax rate was obtained from the 2009 1782 notice, which doesn't include any circuit breaker, homestead or other credits that a property owner may be entitled to. It is only for school taxes.

The Clay City townships include Washington, Sugar Ridge, Perry and Harrison townships. The northern townships include Van Buren, Posey, Jackson, Dick Johnson, Cass, Brazil and Jackson (Parke County) townships.

"For 2009, the (Clay City townships) will pay in $2,258,865 (in school property taxes). To the extent that they over paid by $3.5 million or $6 million, they would be overpaying by an amount that is significantly higher than the amount they put in," Fowler said.

The northern townships paid $6,114,813, which gave the grand total of $8,373,678 in school property taxes.

"We spent a little over $42 million last year, so only 20 percent of the total expenditures comes from property taxes," he said. "The other 80 percent comes from the state, federal or some other source that is not a tax that is levied on property."

Fowler then explained how the $2,258,865 from the property tax revenue from the Clay City townships was spent. The results were that $1,839,469 of the $2,258,865 was spent in Clay City.

"For buildings, transportation, bus replacement and debt, the southern portion is contributing, $419,397 more in 2008 then they are receiving," he said. "That covers the 20 percent that is property taxes."

Of the other 80 percent, the vast majority is made up of the general fund and the state funding formula. The money CCSC receives from the state is based heavily on three areas, the number of children in the corporation, the complexity index (which is the number of free and reduced lunch children) and special education enrollment. Fowler went through the entire calculation and changed the complexity index from the corporation average of .4190 to Clay City's lower .3897.

"The funding that we would receive from the state would drop by $179, 487," he said. "We would have to cut $179,487 dollars in educational programs. This would be teachers, instructional assistants and classroom expenditures if we had clay City's complexity index."

Fowler then calculated the 2008-09 special education funding for Clay City schools. A total of $263,344 in revenue is received from the state for Clay City Schools. However, Clay City spends $404,041 on special education.

Clay County Sheriff's Department Sgt./K-9 Handler Josh Clarke and K-9 Officer Forrest received a $2,000 donation from Clay Community School Corporation Assistant Supt. of Curriculum Kim Tucker in support of the department's K-9 unit. Tucker also was going to present $1,000 donation to the Brazil City Police Department' K-9 unit as well, but Police Chief Dave Archer was called away before the presentation. Kimberly Gleason Photo. [Order this photo]
"To maintain the level of education opportunity for their special education students on their own (Clay City) would need to cut $139,000 worth of educational programs," he said.

In 2008, the southern portion of the county contributed $419,397 to the northern portion for the Buildings/Transportation/Debt. In 2009 the northern end will contribute $319,184 to the southern end for educational programs. Both sides support programs for the other.

"In CPF (Capital Projects Fund), Clay City received $859,068 worth of value for the $696,527 in property taxes paid," Fowler said.

The analysis did not include the additional costs of a new board, superintendent, central office, transportation, etc that would need to be created in Clay City.

"The top teacher pay in CCS is $56,564 (2008-09)," he said. "In a worst-case scenario, the teachers in the south, if it were to split, could take a $7,000 pay cut to survive."

Fowler indicated that an exact amount could not be determined due to the complexities of the basic grant.

State funding is based on a "share the wealth" approach, which provides an equal opportunity to obtain a quality education throughout the state.

"Share the wealth works very well for us at CCSC, because we receive more funding than we put in," Fowler said. "There is significant unknown educational risk in dividing into two corporations, it appears that by remaining combined both sides of the county receive benefits from the other side of the county."

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Okay thats the numbers but you as a school board need to give to Clay City like you do Northview.

-- Posted by confused33 on Sat, May 23, 2009, at 10:05 AM

To confused33

I have family that go to Staunton Ele. and I have been in Eastside several times Clay City Elementary is a much nicer school that either of these. I can never understand how Clay City can feel slighted when our schools in the north are in worse shape than yours. Maybe the board is over spending in Clay City.

-- Posted by HappyTimes on Sat, May 23, 2009, at 10:51 AM

Cooperative effort concept seems to be lost on some in this county. The county public school concept is just like that of other US government entities. It taxes those on ability to pay in order to disperse service back to all equally.

Just like roads. While I may own a $200,000 house, I may pay more taxes than some one with a $30,000 house and THEY may live on a better maintained road.

I am not paying taxes for MY road. I am paying taxes for ALL the roads in the county.

There are people who own a lot and a little at both ends of county. Their funds are pooled to educate ALL students in the county. Not just the ones in their neighborhood

Same with state taxes. Those pay to support Purdue and IUPUI whether we have students going there or not. It pays to help educate those in Indiana who do.

Same goes again for the state roads. We aren't paying for just those in Clay County. We are paying for them in Indy and other locations too.

It all goes into the pot.

IF this corporation were to be broken down into smaller entities there would be even more duplication of cost in administration.

Get over the me and you concept and start thinking as we.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Sat, May 23, 2009, at 1:12 PM

Ah I like the emperical data. Its always good to back an argument up with actual data. Thanks Mr. Fowler. It sums it all up. That's cool they donated to the k-9 fund. The k-9s are a huge asset to our city and county.

-- Posted by Criminology08 on Sat, May 23, 2009, at 3:31 PM

At the elementary level, Clay City is probably the nicest. However, at the middle and high school level, that is a different story. Regardless of buildings, the North end of the county has more educational opportunities.

-- Posted by cc225 on Sat, May 23, 2009, at 5:53 PM


Because the larger the student body, the more ways classes can be scheduled to allow more opportunities. This is one of the good sides to larger buildings housing the learning process.

Sort of like rolling dice. The more dice, the more combinations can occur. When only a few the choices become more limited.

this is why courses and class sections have been eliminated at both ends of the county. I haven't seen any numbers to support that our student body is growing and from what I've read projected numbers should expect to decrease. If we keep the number of buildings we have and the numbers in each get much lower, the third class in any grade will be a thing of the past and the elementaries will be more likely to have larger classes and the choices at higher levels will continue to be reduced.

In the year 03-04 only one course at Northview was listed as only being offered every other year. By 06-07 there were 6.

It doesn't even state the class sections that are being reduced so fewer students can fit that course into their schedules. I'm sure this is happening at Clay City location as well.

I for one don't care where in the county my kid is sitting in a class room. Just want her to be able to sit in the class rooms to get the courses she needs to in order to pursue her major course of study in college afterwards.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Sat, May 23, 2009, at 7:49 PM

That's what I think. I just don't think Northview and Clay City are treated equally. I understand that they would offer more courses because they are larger. Every building should offer the same basic courses. I agree that no matter where in the county you are, you should have the same chance of a good education.

-- Posted by cc225 on Sat, May 23, 2009, at 8:50 PM

Looks like that Red Devil guy who said "figures don't lie but liars figure" was correct. What was presented by Mr. Buell was not the whole truth but just 20% of the truth. Thanks to Mr. Fowler for giving us the whole story. Does Mr. Buell really represent a northern township?

-- Posted by Mrs. Positive on Sat, May 23, 2009, at 10:15 PM

Isn't it interesting how two people can take the same data and come up with different conclusions. Forrest Buell and John Bradshaw takes the data and proves that the south end of the county gets cheated. The school corporation takes the same data and says that that is not the case. "The figures do not lie, but liars figure!" But you have to decide who is telling you the truth. From the apparent imbalance shown by Forrest and John, along with the educational data, performance indicators, and demographics, I have to say that Mike Fowler is wrong.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Sun, May 24, 2009, at 10:01 AM

After think of my previous post, I realized that some might think that I'm calling Mike Fowler a liar. I am not. I'm simply stating that he, Forrest, and John are looking at the same thing from different perspectives. I seriously doubt that they are looking at exactly the same data. Forrest and John are looking at the data as citizens concerned with education and the cost to the taxpayers. Mike is looking at the data as an employee of the school corporation, trying to prove that the corporation is doing the best it can.

As Mike, the last I saw from the employee list for the corporation, is a resident of Putnam County whose only interest in the corporation is as an employee. So, how does his statement ""I honestly went into this approach with no preconceived bias, I just went where the facts lead me and it is what it is." weigh out? As he is involved, it is impossible that he went into his research without bias. Even if only subconsciously, he set out to prove that the corporation was in the right.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Sun, May 24, 2009, at 10:35 AM

That makes sense. I never would have thought of that.

-- Posted by cc225 on Sun, May 24, 2009, at 9:16 PM

It appears that 2 of the 3 Bs only looked at the 20% of the information that supported what they wanted to show the media. If they had looked at ALL funding sources from ALL tax payers they would have gotten the whole picture. But then again the correct picture is not what they were about 30 years ago and their agenda does not seem to have changed 2009.

-- Posted by HappyTimes on Sun, May 24, 2009, at 10:19 PM


You might say the same about the school board president. If CCSC isn't a good fit for his kids, how come it is OK for so many others?

I've though many times that I could simply pull my kids out and send them to Vigo schools or even St Pat's or John Paul High School but that would not fix the problem for the rest of the kids here. Whether it's someone from the south saying that the north is getting more or vice versa; that fact is if we don't care enough to want all of the kids here in Clay County to get the best education possible are we really making the correct moral decision for the betterment of all in the county?

Like the building project. Will doing that help improve education in this county? If yes, how? If no why then are we doing it?

If me spending X% taxes on my property is helping to improve the students'academic progress in this county I don't care at which location that is happening so long as it REALLY is helping and not just making the appearance of doing so or is it really money being spent that is just window dressing?

My personal feeling is that if these people who are currently complaining so about the inequitable spending could see actual academic improvement in general at all locations, they would be less skeptical and less worried about which students got which dollars as most of them want kids in this county to be better prepared for the job market and college. They just don't feel that more bricks and mortar are going to accomplish that. As I said. My opinion because that's how I feel MY tax money is being wasted right now and I am more towards northern end I believe. Clay city schools aren't the only ones being short changed. ALL the students in Clay county are being shortchanged and it's only when ALL the patrons demand that the spending be changed to reflect needed improvements like smaller class size and more high school classes will anyone be getting what they are paying for.

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Sun, May 24, 2009, at 10:33 PM

Ouch, after some thought I had come to the conclusion, independently, that Forrest and John had not looked at all of the data. Their figures do support their claim that the assessed value of the south, taxed as it is, does provide a surplus for the student population that is spent elsewhere. However, that is not the sole source of income for the schools, as Mike Fowler illustrated.

There have been instances in the past where material items were moved or decisions were made were made that can make a person think of Clay City as the "second child" of the school corporation. On the "top of my head", I can think of rugs or mats that were marked with the name and mascot of another school being used at Clay City, scoreboards being taken from Northview and installed at Clay City while Northview got new ones, and Clay City not getting a new lighting system, several years back, for its baseball field when Buildings & Grounds said that the one there was in need of upgrade because you couldn't turn on all of the lights at once. (That was disproven by having all of the lights turned on in the presence of several members of the board.) I have never heard of anything being removed from Clay City and moved to Northview while Clay City received a new replacement. It is these types of things that can build animosity between people. The second child in a family that cannot afford to buy new for everyone grows up feeling slighted.

So, I have to agree with HappyTimes that Forrest and John did not look at all of the data. I cannot comment on what Forrest's agenda was thirty years ago as I was overseas and not concerned with education in Clay County. I do know that his agenda now is to improve education to the limit of his resources.

I have to agree with Jenny Moore's post, especially her last paragraph. The school board and corporation has made decisions that cater to specific portions of the populace, but which take education funds away from others or the total populace. You just cannot spend the same dollar twice.

-- Posted by Leo L. Southworth on Mon, May 25, 2009, at 8:25 AM

There are all kinds of decisions made that give one group more of an edge than another. Isn't always North VS South either. There will always be groups who don't feel that they have been treated the same as another.

Ever see how well the lights work on the soccer field at Northview?

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Mon, May 25, 2009, at 8:46 AM

Nuff said, Figures don't lie and liars figure.

Buell, let it go.

-- Posted by reddevil on Mon, May 25, 2009, at 9:34 AM

I think I agree with parts of what Jenny and Leo said. Jenny is right about the fact that it doesn't matter where your money goes, as long as it is spent equally among all for good educational results. Leo is correct on how Clay City feels like the "second child."


Why should Dr. Buell give up? If you don't agree with him, fine, but he is fighting for what he believes. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. Even if I didn't agree with him, I would have to admire his determination.

-- Posted by cc225 on Mon, May 25, 2009, at 1:32 PM

People need to check into there issues a little more before they jump. For instance the score board issue. I may be wrong but most of the time scoreboards are donated by local businesses or money raised by parent organizations. It is highly possible that CC got a needed score board because an local entity donated a new one to NV. If that turns out to be the case, wouldn't that have been a prudent us of tax dollars? Or would it have been better to store the former NV score board and let CC do without? Sometimes just because some on feels slighted, doesn't mean they were.

-- Posted by HappyTimes on Mon, May 25, 2009, at 3:55 PM

I suppose the 'hand-me' down NV computer chairs 'given' to the ONLY computer lab Clay City got were done so because someone donated the NEW chairs NV received? It remains to be seen now three years after NV got their 1-1 computers what chairs Clay City will get upon FINALLY receiving their 1-1 computers. Are there chairs somewhere in the corp someone doesn't want or will CC students be sitting on the floor using the computers?

-- Posted by can't believe it on Mon, May 25, 2009, at 4:51 PM

Regardless of from where the sports items come, once the donation is approved I believe the corporation then has responsibility for maintaining it. Perhaps when these things are donated, there should be money donated in some sort of "trust" for ongoing upkeep of these items so money for academics isn't forfeited to keep additional physical plant in working order. Sometimes it isn't the "stuff" that takes the money away from educational spending but the upkeep and administration of all the "stuff".

Someone maybe can correct me on this if I'm wrong?

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Mon, May 25, 2009, at 4:56 PM

Have you ever seen the lights on the soccer field at Clay City? Oh, and the football field? What about the tennis courts? Do you know how many of the special ed kids at Clay City transferred from the north? If you haven't lived it, I'm sure you would never know. Seeing maroon colored items repainted purple. You wouldn't feel slighted?

-- Posted by freepatriot80 on Mon, May 25, 2009, at 5:10 PM

Everyone says these items are given by donations. Northview has no trouble recieving donations from people because most of the businesses are in Brazil. Clay City doesn't have big businesses, and why would Brazil businesses give to a school other than their own?

-- Posted by cc225 on Mon, May 25, 2009, at 6:15 PM

So once again here is the problem, rather than looking into the score board issue, people want to just fire back. I seriously doubt the "re-use" issue is a bad as it is said here in these blogs. However, if it is, you can always refuse the items. Or you can make a list the "regifted" items and bring it up the school board and superintendent. And before you say they won't pay attention, try it. No one can honestely look at Clay Ciy JR/SR High or the elementary and say they are bad schools. Remember, Forrest Buell built them for you the same time he built NV.

-- Posted by HappyTimes on Mon, May 25, 2009, at 6:27 PM


You missed the point. The point is that these scoreboards may have been left after donations to NV put in new ones. Not that CC should solicit Brazil business. If CC needed scoreboards and there were some in storage after donations of new ones to another school, why would the corporation go purchase new ones. It would not be a slight. It would not be prudent to buy new if you have good material in storage. I do not see how this could be view as being slighted .

-- Posted by HappyTimes on Mon, May 25, 2009, at 6:39 PM

I'm not trying to say Clay City isn't grateful for those things. I get what you are trying to say, HappyTimes. I'm just saying that Clay City doesn't get that many donations and so they get what Northview had. You're right about not buying a new one if Northview already had one, it's just that it seems to happen with everything.

-- Posted by cc225 on Mon, May 25, 2009, at 8:16 PM


I think we are on the same page. You know Clay City does have the intangible things that NV does not have. The smaller, closer school environment. More direct, personal contact with teahers/students, close nit community. These are all things that have lead CC to win education awards that NV has not. Each school has there positives and negatives and both are an assest to the county of Clay. Most of the fighting I see in blogs and comments about the school seems more like wasted energy to me than constructive debate.

-- Posted by HappyTimes on Mon, May 25, 2009, at 9:24 PM

Mrs. Moore,

I dont't respond to stories often but I feel I must here. Iam retired now but I must tell you I know first hand that moving a child from one school to another is not a decision made lightly by any parent. To move your child to a school where transportation is not provided is a huge undertaking.

Also, I believe the school board president has more than 1 child. He still has at least one child still in CCSC. AND he is not the only current board member to move his child out of the district they live in, to another school in another district.

You of course have a right to say what you want and I will not reply to whatever response you give to my comment. I think you have some very valid points at times. I believe most of the board are good people doing the best they can and I grow tired of the "us vs them" philsophy of those who would demonize people who disagree with them.

-- Posted by seventyx7 on Mon, May 25, 2009, at 10:46 PM


Thanks for responding. Thanks for the information. Information makes for transparency and transparency makes for trust. That was my point. Not simply the fact that a board member's child does not attend CCSC. I know of other students who attend schools in other counties but they are forthcoming about why...such as a swim team or a better curriculum. Even those who choose to home school tell you why. It's a little different for a school board member as they are supposed to be an advocate for the school. It's quite disconcerting to have them move their own children. Just like a former board member to have had his grandson take certain courses at local college instead of from a teacher at the high school. Why not fix the problem at the high school for ALL of the kids instead of just for his own grandson when he knew the problem was there and teaching wasn't really happening in that teacher's classroom?

While moving a child to another school that would cause transportation issues takes some soul searching, why then are people so hesitant about moving school boundaries that may HELP the classroom size for their child? Why has this not been done when numbers point to it?

-- Posted by Jenny Moore on Tue, May 26, 2009, at 7:20 AM

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