Claire McInerny

StateImpact Reporter
I voted sticker
(Jessica Whittle Photography/Flickr)

  School districts across the state are once again asking voters to help fund public schools, with nine districts asking for property tax increases Tuesday.

School districts can ask voters through a ballot referenda process to raise property taxes to help fund their schools. Basically, the ballot question asks voters to pay more in property taxes so the schools have more funding.

Sixteen-year-old Na Da Laing struggled in elementary school.

"I was different from other students," she remembers. "I couldn't speak English at all."

Now, eight years later, she's reading George Orwell's Animal Farm.

In the U.S., roughly one in 10 students is an English language learner.
Many schools struggle to help them feel comfortable with their new language. Helping them get ahead and to college is another challenge entirely.

NYC Department of Education / http://schools.nyc.gov/default.htm

The 2016 ISTEP+ scores show the number of students passing the test decreased for the second year in a row.

Fifty-two percent of students passed both the English Language Arts and Math sections of the test. This is compared to 53 percent in 2015.

Fewer students passed just the English Language Arts test- 66 percent this year compared to 67 percent in 2015.

Fifty-nine percent of students passed the math section in 2016, a drop from 61 percent in 2015.

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.

Nathan Gibbs / https://www.flickr.com/photos/nathangibbs/

School districts around the state, including Clinton Central, are posing nine different referenda on ballots.

These ballot measures are becoming an important part of school funding.

School referenda became a common practice after 2008, when the legislature put caps on the amount of property taxes that could be collected.

Because property taxes were a huge revenue stream for school districts, many schools were put in a tough place financially.

Peter Balonon-Rosen/Indiana Public Broadcasting

This is a two-part series looking at the candidates for Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction.  

The state superintendent runs the Department of Education and chairs the State Board of Education.

 GLENDA RITZ

When Democrat incumbent Glenda Ritz first ran for state superintendent in 2012, she was the underdog.

She faced Republican incumbent and school reform advocate Tony Bennett. He praised charter schools, supported the creation of the voucher program and new ways to hold teachers and schools accountable for low test scores.

WFIU / https://www.flickr.com/photos/wfiupublicradio/

The Department of Education announced Monday the number of new teachers receiving licenses from the state saw a huge increase this school year. 

Last school year, the Department issued around 3,800 licenses to new teachers, the lowest of the last six years. This school year, around 4,500 were issued- an 18-percent increase.

That's a sharp turnaround. Recently there have been fewer people applying for new teacher licenses – the number has been dropping each year for the last three years.

Warsaw Community Schools / https://www.flickr.com/photos/95469015@N02/8707445809

A group of superintendents from around the state has written a letter this week criticizing the way the process of re-writing the state assessment has been handles.

The Indiana Urban Schools Association issued the letter, which is aimed at legislatures and the state’s ISTEP panel. The panel, created during the 2016 General Assembly, charged a group of educators, parents and state policy makers to create a recommendation for how to replace the ISTEP.

Richard Lee / https://www.flickr.com/photos/70109407@N00/

A group of Indiana University researchers has released a report comparing the mechanics of school voucher programs in a handful of states, including Indiana. 

IU's Center for Evaluation and Education Policy wanted to compare the school voucher programs in Indiana, The District of Columbia, Arizona, Louisiana, Ohio and Wisconsin – all places where any student that meets an income requirement can receive a state voucher.

A school voucher gives state money to a low-income student to pay for private school tuition.

Claire McInerny / IPBS

The ISTEP panel that is developing a legislative recommendation for how to replace the state’s testing system heard from a slew of national testing experts Tuesday, who make the most specific suggestions to date.

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