Tag Archives: Forum

Teachers should consult local school board to resolve funding issues

EDITORS NOTE: To read another column on the Red for Ed, check out Gracie Vanover’s story supporting the protests. Also, be sure to comment your view on these columns.

By J.D. McKay

Today, teachers all over the state took personal days to go protest at the Indiana State House. In fact, so many took personal days that over 100 of the school corporations in the state are off.  Their main source of frustration is low pay. I do not blame them. I am sure if you asked every American if they would like higher pay, nearly everyone would say yes. However, I believe teachers are going to the wrong place in search of a higher salary. 

The place teachers need to go is the school board and work their pay through their local school corporation. The local school corporation is who decides where and what the money goes to. The 2019-2021 New Albany Floyd County Schools master contract states the salary range is between $40,250 and $73,333. The state education budget is already very high. The whole budget gives 63 percent to all education — K-12, higher education, and teacher pensions — but 44 percent goes just to K-12 education. That comes out to $10,842,098,22 for all education. 

Just as a comparison, the second biggest is health and human services at 24 percent of the budget at $4,246,085,228. So if the education budget was increased, or the K-12 budget increased, there is no guarantee that money would trickle down to teachers. It could go to support staff, like my mom, who works 30 hours a week and gets no retirement from the district. It could also be funneled to athletic departments, pay for the softball field to be moved, increase support staff pay, or used to hire new teachers. 

Another rallying point from the Red for Ed supporters is that $100,000,000 is spent on testing. That stat is from 2017. The 2019 state budget shows that number to be much lower, $45,111,344. That number includes the PSAT ($1,900,000), Advanced Placement testing ($5,200,000), and remediation testing($11,711,344). The phrase used by the Indiana State Teachers Association is testing, and on page 79 of the Budget Bill, you will see that the number is $26,000,000.

I understand what teachers want. More pay and funding would make education better. However, protesting in Indianapolis is not the answer. The most logical option is to get the change to happen at the local school board. Do not be afraid to look for these stats. Look through the state budget. Contact a state senator. Do not just take what I say, or what the news says, as the truth. Make sure to research this before deciding. 

Teachers need Red for Ed

EDITOR’S NOTE: To read another column on the Red for Ed, check out JD McKay’s story opposing the protests. Also, be sure to comment your view on these columns.

Story by Gracie Vanover

For the last 16 years, my mom has been everything from a special education teacher to a middle school math teacher. My sophomore year my mom transferred from her teaching job in Louisville to an Indiana school district. Although my mom loved teaching at that school more than any other school she had taught at, there was one issue that drove her to go back across the bridge. The low pay. 

As of 2017 Indiana was ranked last out of all the states in teacher pay between 

2002 and 2017, according to the Rockefeller Institute. Indiana also ranks 51 in the country for teacher salary raises over the last 15 years, according to Forbes. When my mom transferred to an Indiana school her pay was cut almost in half compared to what she made as a Kentucky teacher. As a mother of three kids there was no option but to leave her Indiana teaching job for financial security for her family. 

Not only is teacher pay low but most of the funding increases are not going to public schools where 90 percent of Hoosier students attend. The South Bend Tribune writes that there was a “2.06 percent & 2.07 percent funding increase for public schools versus 10.30 percent & 10.47 percent funding increase for charter schools.” When almost every student in Indiana goes to a public school it makes no sense as to why funding for these schools is so low. Charter schools are less regulated by our government but they are getting better increases from the government. Although public schools are government regulated they are on the lower side of funding. When comparing the circumstances the results do not add up.

Due to these funds being so low many teachers have to supply their own classrooms with materials like pencils, paper, expo markers, and more. I could not tell you how many totes of school supplies my mom has bought on sale and stocked up so her classes would be prepared to do basic learning. According to the National Education Association teachers on average spend 459 dollars. That of course, is on the low end.

While teachers pour money from their own pockets for materials the state is spending asinine amounts of money on ridiculous means. Each school year 100 million dollars is spent on standardized testing in Indiana. Not only is it wasted on these tests, but many of these tests show faulty results. Recently Indiana introduced the ILEARN tests. Chalkbeat, an educational news website, states that students failed both the English and math portion due to skewed questions. These failed scores can impact the grading scale and even teacher pay at certain points. 

Although Indiana is having school funding troubles, we are not alone in this battle.

In 2018 the Red for Ed movement was started by teachers across the country to get the funding they deserve. With school funding being low nationwide the picture is much bigger than just us and our teachers. As a nation our education is suffering, and our teachers and administrators notice that. 

As students we see all of the hard work our teachers, school board members, and administrators do for us. They recognize our hard work in sports, academics, and clubs. They help us up when we are down and get us to where we need to be. They are preparing us to go off into successful careers, so why are we letting theirs suffer? 

Our generation is always seeking change. We want to fix issues like pollution and climate change but we never think of the issue right in front of us every school day. As a student and daughter of a teacher I see just how much teachers go out of their way for us, and I know other students do, too.

So, stand up for the math teacher who stays after helping with homework. Stand up for the band director who spend weekends at band competitions and helping students grow as musicians. Stand up for the coach who teaches teamwork and pushes players to be their best. Stand up for the teachers, because they sacrifice so much more than time and pay for us.

 

How to apply for SNAP and free/reduced meals

By Christy Avery

The bell rings, and bellies rumble. Students rush excitedly out of class to the cafeteria, looking forward to a hot lunch and a break to refuel and chat with friends. Later, they might order pizza, get fast food, or cook with their families. Each evening, everyone is able to go to bed with a full stomach.

For many people across America, this is the reality; a second thought is never given to whether or not they will enjoy three meals that day. But for some financially-insecure families, food—whether served at school or at home—is not as easy to come by. 

Many families across America live in poverty: 39.7 million, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 estimate. There are many reasons for this, such as high costs of living, low income, medical expenses, unemployment, and lack of benefits. Making ends meet can be difficult for households, and basic needs such as food can be increasingly expensive.

Because of this, governments and schools offer assistance. The most well-known and widely-used programs are the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)—otherwise known as food stamps—and the National School Lunch Program. These services offer approved households with benefits, such as an EBT card with money that families can use to buy food, or free or reduced school meals to keep children who live in struggling households from going hungry as they get their education.

Assistance programs support a multitude of people each year; in 2018 alone, SNAP served 40 million Americans (according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities), and the National School Lunch Program provided free/reduced meals to 29.7 million children daily, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Although crucial, these services can be difficult to navigate. The Bagpiper has compiled separate guides on how to use each. 

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SNAP: A Guide on How to Receive Government Assistance 

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 1 in 10 Indiana residents receive SNAP each year. But how do families in need begin the process of receiving funds, and what happens throughout? 

First, families need to know if they are eligible to receive SNAP. Benefits are not freely given to anyone; hopeful recipients must meet certain guidelines in order to be approved. 

To be eligible, households must usually: 

-have a gross monthly income at or below 130% of the poverty line

-have no more than $2,500 in assets. Assets are resources that can be used to purchase food, such as extra money in bank accounts or savings. However, if a household includes an elderly or disabled person, assets may be up to $3,500

Applicants should also know that: 

If an adult applicant is unemployed, childless and able-bodied, they can still receive SNAP benefits—however, these benefits are normally limited to a period of 3 months every 3 years. 

After reviewing eligibility guidelines, there are important items that must be prepared before an application can be filled out. 

Applicants will need:

-The names, dates of birth, citizenship status and Social Security numbers of everyone in the home. Note that citizenship status does not normally factor into whether someone is eligible or not.

-Income received by each person in the household

-Proof of shelter expenses such as a recent rent receipt or utility bill

-(if applicable) Proof of child support 

-(if applicable) Proof of medical expenses not covered by insurance, such as prescriptions, co-payments or premiums for the elderly or disabled

Where can applications be found?

Applications can be found in a variety of places. The most common method is to apply online at fssabenefits.org, but those without computer access or who prefer a paper copy can also:

-print an application at fssabenefits.org

-call Indiana Family and Social Services at 800-403-0864

-visit their local Division of Family Resources office 

-Request to have an application mailed to their home 

Applications can be turned in online, by mail or at a local SNAP office. Depending on the state, faxed or emailed applications may be accepted. 

What happens after applying?

After receiving an application, the state agency or SNAP office will process it. This can take up to 30 days. 

Within that month, applicants will participate in another important step: an eligibility interview. This is completed over the phone or in person; applicants can usually choose. The purpose of this interview is to further examine each individual or household’s case and to verify information. Applicants are typically asked about their household, income status, and “other pertinent information needed to determine eligibility” (in.gov).

Once the interview is completed, hopeful applicants will receive notification by mail regarding their eligibility status and whether they receive benefits or not. 

What if an applicant is accepted?

If accepted, participants in the SNAP program will receive benefits within the 30 days from the date they turned the application in. EBT cards, PIN numbers, and other important information will be mailed. 

What if an applicant is not approved, but feel they should be? 

An appeal can be made by contacting the local office or agency where the application was submitted.

How is SNAP used?

Food stamps are no longer paper coupons; today, money is loaded onto an Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) card. These cards work like debit cards and can be used at any grocery store, as well as some farmers’ markets and other establishments. Benefits are refilled automatically each month. 

Be aware that EBT cards can only be used to purchase food, and that they cannot be used to purchase certain items such as:

-alcohol 

-tobacco products

-hot food 

-any prepared food intended for immediate, on-premise consumption (such as fast food).

How much assistance will households receive?

Amounts of benefits are based on level of need. How much a household or individual gets will depend on household size, income and other factors. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, in 2017 the average SNAP household received about $254 per month. The average recipient or individual received about $126. In both cases, this averages out to approximately $1.40 per person per meal.

SNAP can be the difference between healthy and hungry. However, even with the extra assistance, making ends meet and putting food on the table can be difficult. 

Here are some tips to stretch SNAP dollars and make the most out of benefits:

-compare prices of items at different stores

-consider making loose meal plans

-buy in bulk when possible

-consider using coupons to lower shopping costs 

-stock up on canned foods, beans, lentils, and other filling, cheap foods that provide multiple servings in one unit

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National School Lunch Program: How Children Can Receive Free or Reduced Lunches

Proper nutrition is essential to education. At most schools, breakfast and lunch are served, making it easy for students to stay full throughout the day. However, these meals cost, and many families struggle to purchase them as the cost of living adds up. Millions of children and families benefit from free or reduced breakfasts/lunches each year due to the National School Lunch Program. 

There are a couple of ways children can be eligible. Children can eat at a lower price or free if:

-household income is within the limits on the Federal Income Guidelines -Children can also be approved through “Direct Certification.” This means that families who already receive benefits from programs such as SNAP or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANP) are automatically eligible for free meals. School districts use information from the state Social Security department to certify students for Direct Certification.

If a child is pre-approved, a letter will be mailed to the home at the start of the school year. 

If not pre-approved, an application must be filled out. Applications are now primarily online. For New Albany-Floyd County students, they can be found at NAFCSnutrition.com; applications and information for other school districts can be found on the school corporation’s site.

Before filling out the application, families will need:

-gross income (income received before taxes) for ALL household members, even if non-related. Include income earned by children such as child support.

-if receiving assistance from a government program, the household’s case number will be needed

-a pen with black ink; pencil is not permitted

-Social Security numbers of all children and adults 

It is important to fill out the application thoroughly. Households only need to fill out one application for all children in the home.

After sending in the application, households will be notified of their children’s status by mail. Eligibility guidelines change each year, so unless a household is pre-approved, an application must be filled out each school year. 

After approval, what are the benefits?

Those receiving free meals can get a standard breakfast and lunch with no cost, every day. 

Those receiving reduced meals will be charged 30 cents for breakfast and 40 cents for lunch. While meal prices vary by state and school, reduced meal prices are equal across the nation.

Textbook Benefits

In many school districts, including NAFCS, the benefit of receiving free or reduced meals extends beyond the lunchroom. The cost of education also does. Textbook expenses are billed to families each year, and are often hundreds of dollars. 

Floyd Central bookkeeper Amy Romines said that even if a family can afford to pay for meals, “where people get into trouble is book rental. They might get hammered with a three hundred dollar bill. With someone living on low wages, that’s gonna be almost insurmountable.” 

However, Romines said that if someone qualifies for free/reduced lunches in the state of Indiana, they also receive reduced textbook costs. 

“If they’re having issues with one or the other [lunches or textbooks], they’re usually eligible for [assistance with] the other.”

For more information on how to receive textbook assistance, contact the school.

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Pro baseball is making changes

By J.D. McKay

This summer I began working for the Louisville Bats Ground Crew. It is a pretty sweet job, and I am having a lot of fun, but that is not the point. Baseball is evolving. I am sure that anyone who follows sports has heard something like this: “Baseball fans are dying,” or “baseball is boring and losing popularity.” Baseball has heard them, especially minor leagues, and is making changes.

One change is making uniforms fun and entertaining for fans. The MLB has recently started a players weekend where players are allowed to wear nicknames on the back of their jerseys. Plus, they wear special Mother’s Day, Veterans Day, Father’s Day and Fourth of July hats and uniforms.

The Minor Leagues have not stopped at those holidays to wear special uniforms. On May 4 they often wear Star Wars uniforms to celebrate May the Fourth be with you. One new very cool thing most of the MILB is doing is adding Copa de la Diversion uniforms. They take their team’s typical uniforms, and make it something from Spanish-speaking culture. For example, the Delmarva Shorebirds are becoming the Gallos de Delmarva, meaning the Roosters of Delmarva. The Bats are becoming the Murciélagos de Louisville and wearing them on June 28. Those uniforms will make the game a little more fun, and you will get to see me dragging the field between the fourth and fifth innings. The Bats also introduced the Louisville Mashers last year and the Derby City Mint Juleps this year. Both uniforms have dope hats and jerseys.

The MILB also introduced a pitch timer in 2015. If it took a pitcher more than 20 second to pitch, a ball was called without throwing a pitch. This fixed some things, but it did not always fix the problem. For example, if I am at a game, it will inevitably take four hours, even with the timer. However, just last Tuesday, I was at a game that took one hour and 59 minutes. So the timer can be successful.

The last change is the amount of dingers hit. It is wild. Homers are being hit at an alarming rate over the past two years and into this year. There are several explanations for this. One is that bat angles are changing, accounting for more strikeouts but also more homeruns. Another part is that athletes are getting bigger, faster, and stronger, so that probably accounts for it. The last, partial conspiracy is that baseballs are being made differently. Some people say that baseballs are being made basically to add more pop. That seems unlikely to me, but it is certainly possible. Pro baseball has denied that a lot.

Baseball can certainly do more to be more interesting, it could add a DH to the NL. That is kind of a lame idea that real baseball fans like myself disagree with, but small fans might like that more. They could also play fewer games. That is unlikely, but it could happen if the game was truly collapsing.

All in all, baseball will not ever completely die. It is the first sport many Americans play, so that feeling of their first home run will always stick with them. I am sure that some parts will change over my life, and I am looking forward to seeing what. But right now, baseball is evolving at all levels.