Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Columns

May 13, 2014

MAUREEN HAYDEN: Perceptions of schools can influence Hoosier voters

Districts struggle to get tax hikes approved

Ball State University economist Michael Hicks had some unwelcome news when he met with leaders of the scenic Ohio River town of Madison last summer, after they asked his advice on growing their community.

Despite a long list of assets, ranging from a strong manufacturing base to an abundance of recreational opportunities, he found the community had a weak link: its underperforming schools, measured by metrics and perception.

Hicks, who crunches those kind of numbers in his role as head of BSU’s Center for Business and Economic Research, warned the lack of confidence had consequences.

Last Tuesday, that prediction came to pass: Madison voters overwhelmingly turned down a $40 million referendum request from its school district. The money, to be raised with an increase on property taxes, would have gone toward major construction projects, including a new high school gymnasium.

Out of the 10 school referenda on the ballot Tuesday across the state, Madison was the only one that lost. The vote wasn’t close: 73 percent of voters said no, including one local Democratic activist who told the local newspaper she asked everyone she knew to do the same.

Post-election, Hicks’ analysis found most of the successful referenda were in districts with schools rated high for academic performance and/or moving up on their benchmarks. Just two wanted more money for construction projects; the rest were to boost school operating or transportation funds — both areas hit by past cuts from the state.

Hicks’ conclusion: Taxpayers are ready to invest more in schools, but they want to see value — especially when it comes to putting more money into bricks-and-mortar.

“It’s easy to go to taxpayers and say, ‘we’re doing a good job and we’ll get better if we have extra resources,’” Hicks said. “It’s hard to go to taxpayers and say, ‘we’re not doing well, but we need this money to get better.’ But it’s extraordinarily hard to make the argument, ‘we can’t get the classroom right but we’re going to ask for a lot more money to build a new gymnasium.’”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Columns
  • ANDREA NEAL: Fleeting canal era had lasting impact on state Editor’s note: This is one in a series of essays leading up to the celebration of the Indiana Bicentennial in December 2016. In 1825, the Erie Canal was completed to great fanfare. Cannon fire, parades, balls and speeches celebrated the speed and ski

    July 30, 2014

  • TOM LoBIANCO: Pence, Bayh crowd field with questions In the 2016 political landscape, a pair of the state's political big dogs -- Republican Gov. Mike Pence and former Democratic U.S. Sen. Evan Bayh -- have potential candidates holding their breath and waiting on them. Until Pence says otherwise, he's

    July 29, 2014

  • JEFFREY McCALL: All things Hillary are not news, just distractions This column has nothing to do with who should or will win the presidential election in 2016. It has nothing to do with partisan politics of any flavor. This column does, however, assess how television is oversaturating the "news" agenda with countles

    July 29, 2014

  • BRIAN HOWEY: World is rising up to meet Putin's thuggery Any illusions I had about the progressive nature of Vladimir Putin’s Russian regime quickly dissipated when I returned to my Moscow Grand Marriott room in August 2007. Upon opening the door, I was greeted with the spectacle of my papers and note pads

    July 28, 2014

  • DICK WOLFSIE: A trip to end all trips My wife is planning a very exciting vacation to celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary. This was a big surprise to me. Not the vacation part, but the 35 years. I thought it was 34. Right now she is on the back porch, the patio table stacked high with

    July 28, 2014

  • ED VASICEK: Happy marriages do not just happen My wife, Marylu, and I met through a mutual friend. My wife had been involved with Campus Crusade at her university, where my friend, Norman, also attended. One Christmas break, Norman invited his friends from church (including me) to a party — along

    July 27, 2014

  • MICHAEL HICKS: Truth about inflation Almost nothing in economics seems to confuse people as much as monetary inflation. That confusion leaves an intellectual void into which some of the least credible ideas of the modern world crawl.Goods and services typically have a price dictated in

    July 27, 2014

  • RAY DAY: Some laws will do us in In my opinion, we have made laws that are contrary to what they were intended. And this writer is going to let you in on his thoughts about them. One of the things that has been processed incorrectly is the child abuse law. When you tell the parent h

    July 26, 2014

  • MARK HEINIG JR.: Will Pence, Ritz and their playmates ever grow up? Many Hoosier Republicans are curious about Gov. Mike Pence’s future. He probably is, too. Assuming he doesn’t wish to return to Congress or retire from politics, he must decide whether to seek another term as governor of Indiana or run for president

    July 25, 2014

  • LEE HAMILTON: Why congressional incumbents keep getting re-elected It’s no news that Congress is unpopular. In fact, at times it seems like the only real novelty on Capitol Hill would be a jump in its approval rating. In June, a Gallup poll found members’ standing with the American people at a historic low for a mid

    July 25, 2014

Latest news
Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Two Women Narrowly Avoid Being Hit by Train In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast New Sanctions on Key Sectors of Russian Economy Crayola Announces Family Attraction in Orlando US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries
Poll
Kelly Lafferty's video on Tom Miller