Indiana House Bill 1641 would have required school districts that pass or renew property tax referendums — which increase the property taxes communities pay to cover school districts’ operational expenses — to proportionally share money received with charter schools in the area.
The Monroe County Community School Corp. would have been one of the districts affected. According to the Indiana Legislative Services Agency, MCCSC would have had to share 5.3 percent of its referendum funding, or about $365,000 every year, with two area charter schools — Bloomington Project School and Seven Oaks Classical School. That calculation is based on the average daily membership for the district and charter schools in Monroe County.
An amendment approved on Monday took that possibility off the table for now.
“That’s a relief. It would have been really upsetting to have to be sending money to schools that are in competition for the students with the public schools,” said Jenny Robinson, a local parent who helped drive community efforts to renew the referendum in 2016. Robinson is also the chair of the Indiana Coalition for Public Education-Monroe County.
However, charter school advocates viewed the language requiring districts to share tax dollars with charter schools as a way to address an equity issue in terms of state support for public schools, both traditional and charter.
State Rep. Bob Behning, House Education Committee chairman and the bill’s author, said even though charter schools offer similar services and have similar facilities, they do not receive the same level of assistance as traditional schools.
Behning, R-Indianapolis, said both charter and traditional public schools receive state aid for operations, but only district schools receive additional tax dollars — about $3,000 per student — for maintenance and construction projects. He said some high-performing charter schools have access to grant money for facilities, but it is not as much as traditional public schools, about $500 per student.Public school districts in Indiana will not have to share tax dollars with charter schools — for now.