N.J.-S.P. Business Manager Outlines Financial Challenges

North Judson-San Pierre Admin buildingA combination of steady declines in enrollment, changes in public education funding and additional unfunded mandates are taking a toll on the North Judson-San Pierre School Corporation. Business manager Guy Richie says the state changed the way public schools are funded in 2008. Instead of basing funds on local property taxes, money now follows the child.

That means when children move away, so does the tuition support. Richie says it’s never in such a way though that the corporation can eliminate one staff member and make up the difference. Instead the enrollment declines are scattered, which makes cutting expenses more challenging.

Richie says school corporations are also taking a hit from unfunded mandates like technology upgrades and expanded special education programs. He notes N.J.-S.P. had to upgrade to a wireless campus to accommodate online standardized testing, but the state did not provide money to do so. Additionally there’s not been an increase in special education funding for the past 12 years.

North Judson-San Pierre has lost 352 students in the past 11 years, which amounts to $2 million in cuts.

“We have a perfect storm going here of everything working against us. Enrollment’s down, the money that’s coming in is down. Now this tuition support – I call it our monthly paycheck – right now we get $640,000 a month. That’s what we get in here. It sounds like a lot of money, but not when you try and disburse around here with almost $10 million in expenses,” Richie said during Tuesday’s “The Fight for Public Education” forum at North Judson-San Pierre High School. A copy of the PowerPoint presentation he and N.J.-S.P. Superintendent Lynn Johnson used is posted on the school’s website, http://www.njsp.k12.in.us/the-fight-for-public-education.html. WKVI will also air Tuesday’s presentation as a special two-part “Kankakee Valley Viewpoints” show on tomorrow and Sunday, Dec. 14 at noon.