FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARCH 9, 2020
Fulfilling Commitment, Gary Community School Corporation Announces Referendum Ambassadors
Group to report to the public on how referendum revenue is collected and spent
(Gary, IND) – Today, the Gary Community School Corporation (GCSC) announced the members of the newly created Referendum Ambassadors, a group of Gary taxpayers who will report to the public on how referendum revenue is collected and spent.
The formation of this citizen-led group comes after more than 60 percent of voters supported the referendum in November’s election, an outcome that will benefit GCSC students for the next eight years. Funding from the $72.1 million referendum will help students receive more of the opportunities afforded to students in other communities, including the return of sports at the middle school level and new band uniforms for high school musicians. The referendum will also support students’ social-emotional needs, ensuring each student has access to a counselor and therapist. Gary teachers will also receive their first raise in more than a decade.
The more than 70 applicants offered diverse attributes along with passion to support GCSC’s continued improvement. This strong display of interest led the application committee to accept all entries, thereby ensuring that a wide range of voices are included.
“We’re thrilled to have received so much support from the community to pass the referendum and now to volunteer as Referendum Ambassadors,” said GCSC Manager Dr. Paige McNulty. “We want to encourage more community involvement, not less, so we thought it was important to allow all interested individuals to participate in the group.”
The group includes parents, educators, representatives from the local business community, the faith-based community, elected officials and labor groups. The Referendum Ambassadors will report to the community within 30 days of their bi-annual meetings. The report from the committee will include a dashboard and financial statement of referendum revenue collected and spent on teacher salaries, arts, athletics and extracurricular activities, student safety and supports, and balancing the budget to end state control. All reports will be posted online and available for review by the public.
“The Gary schools are making progress, and the community is playing a big role in driving that progress,” said Jerome Nelson, who led a committee in fall 2020 in support of the referendum and supported the acceptance of all ambassador applicants. “I think it’s great that so many people want to serve. As we work toward an end to State control, the more local people who are familiar with district administration, the better.”
Next steps for Referendum Ambassadors include a mandatory financial overview session that will be held in May. In July, the first official meeting will be held to review the first allotment of referendum funds received and upcoming projects. At that time, Referendum Ambassadors will also review the group’s objectives:
○ Be a productive member and work as a team
○ Commit to two meetings a year possibly remotely
○ Learn and understand basic Indiana school finance principles
○ Provide feedback to GCSC
○ Review data provided by GCSC
○ Share accurate information with the Gary and NWI community
Members of the Referendum Ambassadors group may serve for up to eight years. The GCSC Manager and the Chief Financial Officer will lead Ambassador meetings.
GCSC’s fulfillment of a commitment to form the Referendum Ambassadors group comes amidst other signs of progress. In February, Gary Community school buildings re-opened as parents and community members voiced increasing confidence that GCSC was on the right track
In November, voters approved an operating referendum for the schools with more than 60 percent of the vote, leading to more funding for student support as well as the first raise for teachers
in more than 10 years.
In October, GCSC began overhauling the track
at West Side Leadership Academy, one of many facilities improvements that are part of the $25 million School Improvement Fund. That month, GCSC also announced that its Average Daily Membership increased for the first time
in more than 10 years.
In addition, GCSC has adopted local preference policies for hiring and purchasing and distributed a Chromebook with internet access to every student K-12.
Meanwhile, the school district’s deficit has fallen from $22 million in August 2017 to $6 million in December 2019, and the school district’s debt has fallen from $104 million to $79 million.
|Delwyn Campbell, Sr.
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