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March 18, 2013

Student transfers remain hot issue

Local government urged to pass wheel tax.

— What students will be allowed to transfer from one school district to another and how those transfers will take place remains a hot issue during the current session of the Indiana General Assembly.

The issue was raised by two local school districts during the Third House session sponsored by the Greater Kokomo Economic Development Alliance Saturday on the Ivy Tech Community College campus.

Rep. Mike Karickhoff, R-30th District, has introduced legislation which would require the establishment of a procedure to accept and reject students seeking a transfer to another school district.

A school system could reject an applicant if the student has been suspended for ten days in the previous school year, caused physical injury or had disciplinary action for gun or drug use. The districts have to determine how many openings at each grade level are available.

Karickhoff said when a school corporation has more applications for transfer than available spaces, it must conduct a lottery. He said the education reforms already put in place has made schools competitive.

“There are so few vouchers used in Howard County, which shows what good schools we have,” he said of the low number of student transfers. “I understand school corporations don’t want a student that abuses drugs or guns. I did my best to craft the bill to address all the concerns. I was looking for a fundamental fairness in the process.”

Sen. Jim Buck, R-21st District, said he didn’t know if Karickhoff’s legislation would receive a hearing in the Senate Education Committee.

He noted there was no opposition in the House when the bill was heard in committee.

“The schools in my district are split,” Buck said.

In other business

A member of the Windfall Town Council asked lawmakers if there was going to be state funding available for local roads and streets.

Karickhoff said local units of government need to adopt a wheel tax to have funds available for local road projects.

He said there is $344 million in the proposed state budget to be split between the Indiana Department of Transportation and local government entities.

Karickhoff said there is legislation being considered that would allow the local tax council to adopt the wheel tax instead of just the county council.

The tax council consists of all local towns and cities and county government with votes based on population. Currently, only the county council can implement or repeal a wheel tax.

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