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IS THIS WHY PEOPLE HATE SCHOOL DISTRICTS?

In the property tax debate, I argue the schools have been the worst offenders. They are anywhere from 40-80 percent of the property tax problem. They complained about caps on assessments. They also fought against referendums on school projects in order to keep costs under control. And if all that wasn’t bad enough, here’s a prime example of a school district that doesn’t get it.

According to the Franklin Township Informer, Franklin Township Schools in Marion County collected more than $36,000 in revenue from its Pepsi vending machines. The funds were collected from January 2005 to October 2007. Initially school was allowed to the profits from the vending machines, however a policy change left only $2,500 at each school.

So what did the school district do with the leftover cash? Check this out.  According to detailed records, the district spent $581.00 on an administration breakfast. $473 went to Bobby Jones Beef and Brew restaurant. More than $5,400 was spent on staff retirement lunches or parties. Franklin Township also spent $467 on donuts for a school bus tour. $73 was spent at Kabuto Japanese Steakhouse.  The district also spent more than $500 on flowers for various occasions. And here’s the kicker, the district spend $355 on a piano for a retirement party.

But perhaps the most disturbing expenditure of all was $1,500 to a group called  Stand Up For Education, the money was used to put down on a bond deposit to fight against a remonstrance for a school building project.  So in other words, the school used taxpayers’ dollars to fight against individuals who didn’t want their property taxes increased because of new construction.

When asked if any of these expenses were the proper use of vending machine funds, Franklin Township School Director of Business James McWhirt told the paper, “It’s not the taxpayers’ money. There are no restrictions on how it is spent, it is open-ended.” 

That’s obvious.

The State Board of Accounts does not audit these funds per se, however such funds should generally be used for the benefit of the student body as a whole, rather than a select group of students or administrators.

Could someone tell me how retirement parties, pianos, donuts, flowers, and meals at a Japanese Steakhouse benefit the students as a whole?

  • Not Surprised

    This is not just a problem in Franklin Twp. school. With the property tax crisis financial expenditures need to be scrutinized more closely. For example, in Zionsville a new elementary and middle school have been built in the last year and they are not even being utilized to capacity. The elementary school is currently sitting vacant. The middle school with full athletic facilities is being partially used. I understand that projections may have thought the need for these capital projects, but currently there are no students to fill these buildings. I just hope I am proved wrong and these buildings eventually get used sooner than later.

  • DICK TRACY

    WOW!! I’m glad I live in Wayne Twp. where we spend our money on things that really help kids learn. Like…. stainless steel inserts and multicolored terrazzo floors… indoor running tracks… dedicated “cardio” rooms. Referendums for ALL spending decisions!!! The townships are out of control.

  • Party Money

    I am one who believes that we need to eliminate the excessive layers of government, especially all Township offices. I also think school boards should lose the ability to raise taxes, and that authority should be by referendum.

    However, another issue is introduced here: how can a governmental body pay for certain social events (some necessary & appropriate ie: retirement party or refreshments for professional conferences) if not permitted by tax dollars? One way is to put vending machines as a fundraiser for such events.

    I have no problem with the proceeds from those vending machines being used in the manner stated.

  • schoolboardgreg

    This revenue should not be used as the central office slush fund. The answer to this and other almost identical situations is to decentralize authority (and responsibility) into the hands of school building Principals. The Principals, working with teachers and parents, should be in charge of each building’s finances. This practice is key to the success of the Weighted Student Formula school management technique.

  • Andy

    As a Franklin Township resident, this is irritating. Good to hear the school district is using all available funds in the most efficient manner to help offset the ~$5,000 I pay per year in property taxes. When you see things like this, it makes it harder to give any credence to the cry of the administrators that insist they’re going to be slaughtered by the property tax caps. The 1% cap would be a huge relief for me.

  • garry moore

    i am a franklin township resident, and i am amazed that its not the taxpayers money. who pays the electric bill for these pepsi vending machines? who payed pepsi for the product to put in the vending machines? who payed for the schools for the vending machines to sit in? i think it is high time for merging all township schools into one district. marion county has nine township school districts , and it also has speedway lawrence and beech grove. we are spending way too much money on overhead…cut cut cut, the taxpayers are paying to much and not getting the return for their dollars

  • varangianguard

    C’mon now Abdul. School Boards are “forced” to pay competitive salaries to retain their Superintendents. After all, these people are DOCTORS for goodness sake. That cachet means that they should be accorded all the respect and renumeration that their lame theses deserve.

    For that, they need more and more money every year.

  • BigRic

    Finally, we see where the real problem is when it comes to our property taxes. Schools. $12.8 million on a pool at North Central HS. Interesting fact about that NC pool is that Jim Schellinger’s wife was on the school board at the same time Jim Schellinger’s construction company was awarded the bid for the project…

  • sure

    As a father with two students in the Franklin Township School Sports Developoment Corporation I’ve had it up to here. Everyday I drive by the Mini Lucas Oil Football Stadium for the Highschool. Well, at least the kids feel good about their sports. Of course, let’s not worry about the book learning portion.

    Go Flashes, beat whoever, help our ego.

  • Shorebreak

    Double standards.

    How many here have had their kids letter in math or chemistry? The message is clear – we don’t want science fairs on Friday night. We want football. That attitude won’t change unless we own it personally and we commit to changing it.

    And spending? How many of us are guilty of re-electing state and federal reps who spend most of their time filling up the trough rather than working on meaningful legislation that reduces government? Look at what’s happening now in the State House. How many of these people will get re-elected? I’ll bet most of them. Our culture operates by giving officials a pass, yet we expect school administrators to measure up to a higher bar?

    It’s another double standard.

    Fingers need to pointed, but let’s not forget the old adage that when we point fingers, we’re pointing three fingers back at ourselves. We want change. Unless each of us takes it upon ourselves to change our own attitudes and perceptions, there will be no fix. If we want schools to meet our demands, Friday nights should see a community emerge to witness and celebrate academic excellence. And local officials should be constantly aware that representatives who don’t spend wisely don’t get re-elected.

    We can point fingers and remove a symptom. But until we commit to change as individuals, we will never fix the problem. We demand one thing, yet we enable another. Upon reflection, I’ve been a part of it. How about you?

  • http://www.hoosiersforfairtaxation.com mely

    Abdul, you need to contact Diane Vice up in NW Indiana. She is a homemaker activist that is busting open price fixing in their school system. Her blog is called “Welcome to My Tea Party. She discover that a roofing contractor, Tremco, is charging three times higher rates and locking other companies out of the bid process after local roofers started complaining that they couldn’t bid or get school jobs.

    Meanwhile, after she complains to two helpful Senators, Ice Miller comes in and slaps this activist with a libel lawsuit on behalf of the roofing company.

  • http://diana-vice.blogspot.com/ Diana

    The one minor correction I will make is that the Ice Miller law firm is not the firm representing Tremco in the libel suit against me and Taxpayers United for Fairness. Make no mistake about it, though, they are actively involved in this. Ice Miller lawyers have been lobbying senators and using every bit of influence they have to silence taxpayers and critics of the AEPA bidding scheme that has cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars. And it was Fred Biesecker, an attorney with the Ice Miller firm who unsuccessfully lobbyed for the Rossville School audit to be rescinded. According to Wilson Education Center minutes, Tremco also paid for lawyers to lobby the Attorney General, and we’re currently seeking public information and records regarding conversations and correspondence that took place between Tremco operatives and Steve Carter.

    An Ice Miller attorney also met privately with Senators last week in an attempt to derail Senator Weatherwax’s bill that would have effectively put a stop to the way the Wilson Education Center has been doing business.

    It’s time for taxpayers across this state to get actively involved.

    http://diana-vice.blogspot.com/

  • schoolboardgreg

    According to some sources, Indiana spends 50% more per square foot for school construction than the national average.

  • Tim Dugan

    The roofing company in question is a company from Shaker heights Ohio called Tremco Inc. which is a subsidiary of B.F Goodrich rubber company. I know this because I had a price fixing law suit against them myself.

  • Tom

    The placement of these vending machines…
    Did the Township enter into a contract and get paid some $$ to have these machines placed in the schools?????.
    Or did they use taxpayers money and buy them outright?
    How does this work???

  • http://diana-vice.blogspot.com/ Diana

    Tim Dugan,

    I need to talk to you about this. Please contact me via this blog link.

    http://diana-vice.blogspot.com/

  • http://www.hoosiersforfairtaxation.com melyssa

    Flipper you will like Diane and vice versa.
    .
    Abdul you need to contact Diane. Her information will take your audience further down the rabbit hold of school spending.

  • Snark

    Why the heck are there Pepsi machines in Franklin Township schools?

    Isn’t that flavored-sugar-water merely junk food? Is that what we want our kids to be drinking?

  • William

    James McWhirt should resign pending Charges of Criminal Conpriracy in the Misuse of Public Funds…. Ignorance Of The Law Is No Excuse! (Particularly by someone who presumes to “know better than us ‘peons’ who pay his wages and pension” ?? )
    Git’owttahir’Jimma! or we’ll ryn’yuh’otta’hir’on’ah’pol!!
    No wonder the kids can’t read or write after “graduating” from ‘high’ school. They can’t even ‘pass’ my dumbed-down employement applicant test for entry level positions. It’s a shame!
    It’s Criminal.
    “Those who CAN – Do.
    Those who CAN’T – teach.”
    The NEA and the AFT are criminal conspiracies funded with OUR property taxes.
    See the RICO legislation, they qualify – those 2 organizations qualify by definition of the law … if only anyone chooses to enforce it..
    Well, comes one. It’s War.
    Those who don’t want to cop-a-plea now, can join the defendants later.
    This will never be “business as usual”, anymore.

  • anonymous

    Price fixing, misuse of funds. Who approves this misappropriation of money? I would like to say that Bart the liar was aware of all of this and probably had a relative in charge so he gave it his blessing as a cost of doing business BUT THEN that assumption is not based on fact. On the other hand, I’m still confused about lottery profits. Exactly what is funded by those millions of dollars? Ohio has excellent schools systems, all 100% lottery funded. If we are going to allow illicit activity, the least we can do is use it to educate our children. Many Indiana parents can’t afford book fees!

  • http://diana-vice.blogspot.com/ Diana

    Here’s a personal invite to my Tea Party:

    http://diana-vice.blogspot.com/

  • push it

    Diana, are you trying to push your new blog site or something, lol?!

  • Kevin Barrer

    Profits from in-school vending machines should stay in the school – buy a breakfast for the teachers or do something special for the students. If the administration wants to go out to a restaurant let them roll the quarters from the vending machines in the admin building!

  • Indiana Land of Taxes

    The vending machine debockle is only the tip of the manure pile. Franklin Township schools are overspending and overbuilding at a rate higher than the community they serve can support. On the average the facilities are nicer than most of the homes whose taxes support them. The schools are crying their eyes out over the impending loss of revenue, in the past all they had to do is spend and tax. Now they are being called to the carpet by the taxpayers. “Accountability???” I attended FT schools graduating in 1969, and have been a lifelong resident. The old school system was simple and no swimming pools, tennis courts and multimillion dollar stadiums. It is time they learn to live within their means. I don’t care if they go bankrupt, it’s their own fault.

  • http://www.shepard2008.com/ Sean Shepard

    In the private sector, a business owner could decide whether to use their vending machine funds to reduce expenses, add to profits or as an office “slush fund”.

    Once we’re talking about public institutions, operating on public tax-payer funded property and with a captive audience/client-base then absolutely those funds become public funds and should be used to reduce or cover educational related expenses.

    They have no right to those funds for use in retirement parties or fun little gatherings. Again, in the private sector the boss can decide if he/she wants to cover those costs. In the public sector, the bosses are the tax-payers and most I know have had enough.

  • http://www.cleaningterrazzo.net/ Repairing Terrazzo Floors

    IS THIS WHY PEOPLE HATE SCHOOL DISTRICTS?