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5/12/2017 6:25:00 PM
State recommends $1.595 million loan to Gary schools for May 2017 payroll

Meredith Colias, Post-Tribune

Weeks before its state takeover, the Distressed Unit Appeals Board recommended a $1.595 million loan to help the Gary Community School Corp. make its May 26 payroll.

The move, which needs to be approved by the State Board of Finance, requires "the submission of the actual payroll claim," Commissioner Courtney Schaafsma said via email.

The district faces multiple financial burdens including $103 million in long-term debt and declining revenues and enrollment. Since March, the district has gone before DUAB multiple times requesting loans to pay for staff paychecks or other basic bills.

DUAB will meet at the West Side Leadership Academy at 5:30 p.m. Monday.

According to the agenda, the meeting will have an overview of the state takeover law, a presentation by Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt, comments from the Gary School Board, Gary Teachers Union, state lawmakers and Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and time set aside for public questions.

On May 1, DUAB met for a similar meeting in Muncie going over the state takeover process. According to that presentation, the board anticipated interviewing selected candidates and firms and making a selection by the end of June. In that case, the emergency manager could be either a single person or team.

The deadline for submissions for the emergency manager in Gary schools was May 10.

A proposal submitted by Robert Bobb Group LLC to the state anticipates Gary would be placed under emergency management for at least two years, with the option to renew for a third.

A spokesman for the Indiana Department of Administration on Friday said no list of applicants would be released.

Under the new law, the state will control virtually all spending in the Gary district. A provision in the law highlighted during a meeting lawmakers held for the public on May 8 stated the district can't acquire property, incur a contract over $30,000 or adopt a budget without the Distressed Unit Appeals Board 's approval.

Eliminating the debt will be the emergency manager's prime focus, while relegating academic matters to an official named by the manager.

The emergency manager can also sell assets or transfer property, providing the Gary mayor is given a 30-day written notice.

Related Stories:
• Local legislators outline law affecting Gary schools to the public
• State poised to take over Gary school district
• Legislature OKs emergency manager for Muncie Community Schools

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Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR

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