NOTE: This "It's Your Business" column by Chamber CEO Eric Spoonmore was published in the September 16, 2022 Bloomington Herald-Times.
We are so fortunate to live in a vibrant community that values public education. The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce and our membership understand that a high-quality public education system delivers substantial economic benefits to a community. The Chamber remains committed to working with our partners in the Monroe County Community School Corp. (MCCSC) and the Richland Bean-Blossom Community School Corp. to provide the highest quality learning experiences for our local students.
This November, MCCSC is asking voters to approve a referendum that would provide increased funding for student programs, teacher salaries and staff wages. The additional funding will protect against inadequate state funding, expand programs to meet changing educational expectations, attract and retain quality teachers, and continue important student services and enrichment programs.
In 2010, voters approved the current referendum that provided an operating levy of 14 cents per $100 of assessed value. The new rate proposed by MCCSC in 2022 is 18.5 cents — an increase of less than a nickel per $100 of assessed valuation. The Chamber views the referendum as a prudent investment in our community and overall student success. The additional referendum dollars will prevent painful cuts to staff positions and student programming. If passed, 100% of the total new referendum dollars will fund teacher and staff compensation, as well as much needed S.T.E.M; arts, and special education programs. Further, none of the additional revenue is earmarked for administration pay or capital projects.
As president of the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce, I recently served on a 25-member referendum advisory committee that reviewed multiple funding options and offered feedback to MCCSC officials. We closely examined the fiscal environment that MCCSC is facing and conducted community surveys to solicit feedback from residents. Based on feedback received, 83% of survey respondents favored a proposal to increase MCCSC’s existing referendum funding to maintain the high standards we expect for our schools.
The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce takes immense pride in our partnership with our two local school districts. The Chamber’s Success School program plays an active role in our local K-12 educational initiatives. Each school year, the Chamber works alongside teachers and administrators to connect students with local companies to open the doors of opportunity and provide real-world workforce experiences. Last academic year, through our career and financial literacy programs, we were able to reach nearly 3,000 students in Monroe County with the assistance of over 400 volunteers.
The Chamber partners with our schools because we know public education is a primary economic driver in our community, which leads to an enhanced quality of life for all. Our schools are instrumental in equipping students with the skills needed to be successful in today’s workforce. The schools, the teachers they employ, and the students they instruct make it possible for our local companies to recruit talent from right here in our community, keeping our local economy healthy and sustainable into the future.
Please join the Chamber and our many members in supporting our schools, teachers, and students this upcoming Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 8. Vote YES for MCCSC and vote YES for our future.
This blog contains press releases and other news updates from the Chamber.