Gary Schools Turn To Legislature Amid Financial Trouble

Nov 14, 2016

Credit Rachel Morello / Indiana Public Broadcasting

After a school referendum failed last week, Gary Community Schools is asking the state legislature for help as it struggles with ongoing financial problems.  

The school referendum was posed after years of financial struggle and failed by only 300 votes. The district sent a letter to staff Friday, saying it wouldn’t make payroll on time.

This is the district’s second referenda to counter decreasing enrollment in recent years. Both have now failed.

When students leave a district, state money goes with them, and Gary schools struggle to maintain staff and buildings.

The district is now talking with legislators about how to keep the district financially stable. Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee Luke Kenley said he’s been talking with Gary representatives and the superintendent. He doesn’t want to give them more money. He says he wants to help them solve a bigger problem.

“I don’t think that’s the source of their problem, just to throw more money at them, "Kenley says. "I think they need to have a whole different management structure there.”

The state hired a financial consultant whose been working in the district for months, and participates in these discussions.