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West Lafayette, IN

West Lafayette Community School Corporation (WLCSC) is located in West Lafayette, Indiana. The district serves approximately 2,200 students from over 30 countries.

CHALLENGE

In 2009 state legislators removed property tax revenue from school districts’ General Fund. Prior to 2009, revenue for school districts’ General Funds came primarily from two sources: state revenue and local property taxes. Under the new funding formula, the West Lafayette Community School Corporation faced reductions of $500,000 - $700,000 per year over the next seven years. For the 2012 budget year, West Lafayette General Fund was cut by $447 per student or approximately a $900K or 7.6% loss in funds. The 4.5% cut that in occurred in 2010 has never been restored and is based on the state’s new school funding formula and the redistribution of public school dollars to private schools. Watch video at http://www.riseabovethemark.com/.

SOLUTION

In 2009, with assistance from our West Lafayette Schools Education Foundation (WLSEF) the district began a Save our Schools (SOS) campaign. With support of our parents and community, the WLSEF raised over $217,000 to save teaching jobs.

Dr. Rocky Killon, West Lafayette’s Superintendent, began a public relations campaign to begin a conversation with our community and state officials about true education reform and what it takes to become a world-class education system.

RESULTS

With the realization more funding was needed, in 2010 the West Lafayette School Board approved a referendum question to appear on the ballot. On May 4, 2010, WLCSC patrons went to the polls to vote on a seven-year tax referendum which would allow our school district to raise property taxes not to exceed $.43 per $100 of assessed valuation in any given year. By a 2 to 1 margin, the community voted in favor of the referendum thus preventing Draconian cuts in music, art, and extra-curricular programs.

This August, Killon announced the development of a documentary about West Lafayette’s plight, Rise Above the Mark, and unveiled our www.riseabovethemark.com website. It is his hope that the documentary will enable school and community leaders to begin a conversation with legislators, education leaders and business leaders about a new model of education that can be utilized by all school districts that will lead us to a world-class education system. The documentary website has already received over 4,000 hits, and many educators from across the state and around the nation have contacted the district to get more information about our project.

LESSONS LEARNED

“We must do everything we can to promote the value and importance of public education. As educators, we must promote what we are doing to provide our students with a world-class education system or our patrons will continue to believe what they hear from the press, politicians, and private/charter school supporters. If we continue to compare our schools only with others in our state, we will never compete on the stage we ask our children to compete, which is the rest of the world,” said Killon.

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