From Vic’s Statehouse Notes #337, May 1, 2019
Indiana Coalition for Public Education www.icpe2011.com & https://www.facebook.com/IndianaCoalitionForPublicEducation/
Despite the improvement in K-12 funding, the [approved FY2020 & FY2021] budget results present a mixed picture for public education in Indiana:
K-12 tuition support got a 2.5% increase each year, a bit higher than the 2015 increases but not as much as the 2007 budget increases. See the chart below to put these increases into historical context for the past seven budgets.
Giving more and more public money to private schools continued. Voucher expansion in the form of the new 70% voucher was included in the budget at a two-year new cost estimated by LSA to be $19 million. Tax credits for private school scholarships were expanded at a two-year new cost of $3.5 million. Charter school grants, given in addition to funding provided in the funding formula for charter schools, were raised by 50% at a two-year extra cost of $15 million. These three new benefits for private and charter schools total $37.5 million.
The funding formula estimates vouchers (Choice Scholarships) to cost $175 million in the first year of the new budget and $185 million in the second year. That money comes out of the K-12 tuition support fund cited above.
The funding formula estimates that in the first year voucher students will increase by 4.3% but voucher funding will increase by 9.3%. In the second year of the budget, voucher students will increase by 3.5% but voucher funding will increase by 5.6%.
The funding formula estimates that new charter schools will get $12 million in the first year of the new budget and $26 million in the second year of the budget. Budgets for all charter schools, except for the charter school grants mentioned above, come out of the line item for K-12 tuition support.
Some 60 of the 289 public school districts will get less money in the funding formula due to stable or declining student enrollments. These districts will be hard pressed to raise teacher pay or simply to maintain current programs.
On average, community public school districts saw funding gains in the range of 2% while voucher increases cited above are far higher.
Pension payments owed by school districts were reduced by 2% using the budget surplus, giving school districts an estimated savings of $70 million each year, equivalent to another 1% increase in K-12 tuition support. The problem is that this money is not distributed evenly and some small districts will get very little help from this program. The Indianapolis Star found that districts could receive a range from $1100 per teacher to $600 per teacher and that small districts might count only a few teachers in this pension plan providing minimal help to boost teacher pay.
The Teacher Appreciation Grant was raised from $30 million to $37.5 million each year.
Funding for English Language Learner programs rose from $17.5 million to $22.5 million each year.
Funding to pay for curriculum materials (textbooks) for low-income students remained stuck at $39 million each year, where it has been for over a decade. Low funding in this program means the state pays only a portion of the textbook costs, usually around 75%. Districts with high percentages of low-income students must pay for those textbooks out of scarce local funds.
The good news in this list is tempered by the ease that voucher-supporting groups were once again able to expand vouchers and tax credits for private school scholarships. The heavy lifting required to get more money for public school teacher pay compared to the ease by which voucher programs were expanded raises questions about the future of public education in Indiana.
Does the supermajority General Assembly leadership really want public school teachers to feel supported and respected in Indiana? If public schools falter because teachers leave the state or the teaching profession, then parents will choose private schools and private schools will win the competition that the General Assembly began in 2011. Keeping good teachers is essential to the success of public education.
Under the new budget, Muncie Community Schools will lose an estimated 3.4% in FY 2020 and an estimated 2.9% in FY 2021. (FY 2019 Through FY 2021 School Formula Simulation Prepared by Legislative Services Agency 3/7/2019)
Compare This Budget with Six Previous Budgets
Claims about the new budget can be weighed by comparing it to the previous six budgets. Study the table below to see how the new 2019 budget matches up with recent budgets going back to 2007.
INDIANA SCHOOL FUNDING INCREASES FOR THE PAST SEVEN BUDGETS
Source: The summary cover page from the General Assembly’s School Formulas for each budget
Prepared by Dr. Vic Smith, 4/26/19.