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Schools dropping school-funding lawsuit

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The three Indiana school districts and parents who filed a lawsuit against the governor and other state officials over school funding are dropping the suit due to recent legislative action.

The plaintiffs announced Thursday morning that the suit is no longer necessary because of a new school-funding formula in the budget Gov. Mitch Daniels signed May 10. The legislation provides for a phased-in process over the next seven years to achieve uniform funding.

Hamilton Southeastern Schools in Hamilton County; Franklin Township Community School Corporation in Marion County; Middleburry Community Schools in Elkhart County; and parents of children filed the lawsuit in Hamilton County in February 2010 because they claimed the state’s non-uniform school-funding scheme has a negative impact on its students. The school districts said they received dramatically less funding than other school corporations and that the formula negatively affected schools with growing enrollments.

The case was before the Indiana Supreme Court pursuant to Indiana Rules of Appellate Procedure 56(A).

“Lawmakers eliminated the deghoster and there is no restoration grant. These were the very things that were preventing uniformity across the state and were the focus of our case,” said plaintiffs attorney Patricia J. Whitten, who is with Franczek Radelet in Chicago.

A deghoster continued to provide funds to districts with declining enrollment for students who have moved to other districts, and the past funding formula allowed schools with declining enrollments to receive a restoration grant that provided supplemental dollars to prevent extreme losses all at once, Hamilton Southeastern Schools’ Chief Financial Officer Mike Reuter said in a statement.

Plaintiffs attorney Mike Hernandez of Franczek Radelet said the schools are in the process of withdrawing the complaint and are waiting for school boards to take final action before that process is complete.

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