school funding

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.

Senate Proposes Using School Buses As Rolling Billboards

Apr 14, 2015
Larry Darling / https://www.flickr.com/photos/tncountryfan/

Indiana school buses might feature ads next year under a proposal added to the state budget.

The Senate unanimously endorsed a pilot program allowing three Indianapolis-area schools to sell ads on their buses last year, but the proposal was deleted during negotiations with the House.

The Senate is trying again this year, agreeing on a voice vote to add the authorization to the state budget.

Kyle Stokes / http://indianapublicmedia.org/stateimpact/

House and Senate Republicans are in general agreement about how much to give schools in the new state budget.

But a debate is looming over how to calculate funding for low-income students.

Schools receive extra state funding based on a computation of how many students are from low-income families.

The House Republican budget proposes switching to a simple count of how many students are on the federal free-lunch program.

Kyle Stokes / http://www.ipbs.org/

Legislators are rewriting the complicated school funding formula, and even though that means across the board increases, some districts will still struggle with finances.

But the effort to create more equitable system isn’t being met with much support.

Talking about how the state distributes money to schools isn’t exactly a thrill ride.

Noah Coffey / https://www.flickr.com/photos/noahwesley/

House Republicans Monday rejected Democrats’ attempts to make changes to the state budget bill. 

K. W. Barrett / https://www.flickr.com/photos/barrettelementary/

A new approach by the House could accelerate some big problems troubled schools are already facing.

Indiana is following a national trend that indicates rural populations are in a steady decline, while urban and suburban communities are growing.

A proposal by House Republicans would increase education funding, but continue the current practice of money "following the student."

That means rural districts with declining populations would lose even more funding, while districts that are gaining students would get more.

Pages