Source: The Corydon Democrat

County shouldn't fund private school repairs
My Opinion

by Alan Stewart

August 27, 2013

When someone hits the lottery, they usually gain family members they didnít know they had and friends theyíve never met. Instead of thinking of how to spend their newfound wealth wisely, the lottery winner has to figure out a way not to upset each person who approaches with their hand out, asking to spare a dime.

The riverboat referendum passed in the early 1990s in Harrison County; the Glory of Rome officially opened as Caesars Indiana in November 1998; and residents of Harrison County (and other neighboring counties) have been reaping benefits of some form ever since. Whether itís lower property taxes, paved roads, dual-credit programs at our county high schools, free textbooks for South Harrison students or each fire department in the county receiving shiny, new fire trucks and emergency equipment, someone ó even someone who didnít want the boat here ó would have to live in a cave to have not benefited in some way from riverboat gaming.

The members of the Harrison County Council and Harrison County Board of Commissioners who have served in the past 15 years have, by and large, done a good job of not frivolously blowing through riverboat dollars.

Sure, there may have been some choices, including a river rescue boat for a county that doesnít have a real boat ramp, that made some residents scratch their heads, but, in the grand scheme, the county is still taking in more than itís spending.

Representatives for St. Joseph Catholic School went before the county commissioners recently, requesting funding for upkeep of its school building in Corydon. To repair plumbing, air conditioning, carpeting and the roof would cost between $150,000 to $200,000 during a period of several years.

Ed Hoehn, who made the request for St. Joseph, said the money could come out of the funding per student public schools already receive from riverboat gaming funds.

The school, which serves students from pre-kindergarten through sixth grade, already receives money from the state for student vouchers. Adopted two years ago, school vouchers allow a student to take state money ó normally to be distributed to public schools on a per-pupil basis ó to a private school like St. Joseph.

So, were the county to accept the request, St. Joseph would be double-dipping from state funds received from taxpayers and local money received from gamblers for its private school. And if St. Joseph gets its request, whatís to stop St. Johnís Lutheran School near Lanesville from requesting aid from the county? Or Safe Haven Child Care Ministry at Trinity Assembly of God? Or, for that matter, any other private school entity that pops up?

St. Joseph may provide a good education and a solid religious foundation for its pupils, but repair work for their building shouldnít be offered on the countyís dime.