I hadn’t planned to blog about Franklin Township schools in southeastern Indianapolis but they are turning into the gift that keeps on giving, sorry IPS. As you know a number of parents are furious that the school district is forcing them to pay for bus service.
Although the school district says its necessary because voters turned down a referendum to increase property taxes, there appears to be a little more to the story. Franklin Township parents have to pay nearly $500 per child to take the bus. The buses are run by an organization called the Central Indiana Education Service Center, not-for-profit organization whose mission statement is to “foster collaboration for the success of education and educators in Marion and surrounding counties.” The district reportedly leased the buses to the CIESC for $1.
So what, you might say. I said the same thing until I went and looked at their board of directors and discovered that Franklin Township Superintendent Dr. Walter Bourke is the chairman of the board. Call me crazy, but that just doesn’t seem right. The Superintendent of the school district that doesn’t have enough money for bus services, leases the district’s buses to an organization that he’s the chairman of, really? This raises a number of questions, does he get paid or reimbursed for any of his work? Was any of this disclosed to the public before a board vote was taken? By the reaction on my facebook page, I don’t think so. The folks of Franklin Township are already furious and this little bit of news is only going to make them madder. And I wouldn’t be surprised if this arrangement doesn’t end up on the Indiana Attorney General’s radar screen.
There are already discussions of boycotts and backing up traffic on the first day of school. And while I’m not one to advise people on how to conduct their revolutions, but if it were me I’d organize the families of about 500-600 kids and tell Dr. Bourke and the District that if they don’t straighten up and fly right the kids may not show up for school on September 16. Why is that date important? That’s the official count day for school districts in Indiana. The state counts the number of students in school that day and determines the funding formula from there. So assuming Franklin Township gets $5,000 per child from the state, if 500 kids stay home on count day the district will lose $2.5 million. I know it sounds like exercising the nuclear option, but you don’t take a knife to a gunfight.
Of course all this wouldn’t be necessary if Dr. Bourke, the school board and Franklin Township school administration would do a much better job of engaging their community, however as you sow, so shall you reep. Let the reeping begin.