school funding

US Department of Education / https://www.flickr.com/photos/departmentofed/14120929212

It’s been one year since legislators created a new school funding formula.

The formula gives equal funding to all schools, but critics say that’s unfair because schools with a lot of low incomes kids or students learning English need more money.

StateImpact Indiana’s Claire McInerny visited Goshen, Indiana, and found the district is scrambling to save its English Learning program in light of the funding cuts.

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During the past decade, school districts across the state have cut bus routes to save money, meaning getting to and from school is a much bigger chore.

A bill that passed the state Senate aims to free up local tax dollars to help fill the transportation void in many school districts.

But StateImpact Indiana’s Claire McInerny reports the bill won’t solve bigger funding problems.

House GOP / https://www.flickr.com/photos/republicanconference/

Governor Mike Pence is increasing school safety grant funding by more than $3 million in the wake of a shooting at an Oregon community college that left ten people, including the gunman, dead. However, the measure also comes after the new state budget cut that funding by more than half.

The legislature created the school safety grant fund in 2013 in response to the Newtown, Connecticut school shooting.  Lawmakers appropriated $10 million a year for schools to hire resource officers and make safety improvements. 

Rachel Morello / StateImpact Indiana

There are a lot of moving parts to school budgets and plenty of different types of schools to deal with. And in some cases, the federal government gets involved, which adds another layer of confusion.

That appears to be what’s happening with this year’s Title I funding situation in Indiana. A number of charter schools saw their Title I funds decrease this year – while in some cases, nearby traditional public schools saw an increase.

Henry de Saussure Copeland / https://www.flickr.com/photos/hdescopeland/2773856754/

A court ruling blocking charter schools in Washington State isn't expected to affect Indiana charters.

The Washington Supreme Court ruled Friday that charters can't be funded like public schools because their boards are appointed, not elected.

Ohio-based Carpe Diem Learning Systems CEO Bob Sommers says charters' public status in most states, including Indiana, is already settled law -- Washington established its charters later than most states, and has what Sommers calls a quirk in its state constitution which resulted in the courtroom defeat.

Rachel Morello / StateImpact Indiana

Like many families, Indiana schools have to budget their expenses.

Instead of setting aside money for groceries, they budget for student lunches. In place of a mortgage, schools have to pay to upkeep their facilities.

But a school district rarely has a stable income. It depends on a lot of changing factors – like the number of students enrolled each year, whether voters approve a referendum agreeing to pay extra taxes, or how the state legislature decides to calculate state funding.

Brandon Smith / http://indianapublicmedia.org/news/

Indiana’s new budget is officially law as Gov. Mike Pence signed it Thursday.

Pence hails the state’s two-year, $31 billion spending plan as something “every Hoosier can be proud of.”

The governor signed the budget in front of a sea of students at an elementary school in Lebanon, Ind., highlighting the largest funding increase for K–12 schools in state history.

Yet at 2.3 percent growth each year, that increase only keeps pace with inflation. Still, Pence calls it a historic achievement.

Trend Continues As 12 Of 17 School Referenda Pass

May 6, 2015
jamelah e. / https://www.flickr.com/photos/jamelah/

Trends in school-related voting held mostly true this election cycle, with education referenda questions passing in many districts. 

Thirteen Indiana school districts appealed to voters for their support in 18 separate referenda this spring. In total, thirteen measures passed and five failed.

Phil Roeder / https://www.flickr.com/photos/tabor-roeder/

History shows most of the school referenda that pass, pass in May – they have about a 50-percent success rate in Indiana. This could be because voters don’t want to pay more taxes, but some experts also point to a lack of understanding about what the additional tax money would pay for.

Thirteen Hoosier school districts are asking for 18 separate tax levy increases on the primary ballot – a mix of construction and general fund supplements.

Leslie Richards / https://www.flickr.com/photos/14052937@N04/

The so called “education session” of the General Assembly will end Wednesday and lawmakers are expected to give more money to schools through the updated school funding formula. 

Funding for schools increases 2.3 percent under the proposed 2016-2017 budget, the biggest jump in the state’s history.

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