The Complexity Index

School children studying chemistry
Image from ICPE Notes

 – and why you should care about it


Why does it cost more
to educate children
who live in poverty?

  1. Children who grow up in homes of poverty have fewer early childhood educational opportunities.
  2. Children in single-parent homes, or homes where parents have to work evenings, more often experience deficits in language development.
  3. Children who grow up in poverty start school significantly behind their wealthier peers.
  4. Children who grow up in poverty are less likely to be exposed to adults with advanced educational degrees.
  5. Impoverished parents cannot afford the cost of additional tutoring or even transportation to the public library or their school for additional support.
  6. Students who grow up in poverty are more likely to experience medical and emotional trauma.
  7. Public schools that serve the highest proportion of students of poverty need to provide more resources for academic aides, tutoring staff, nurses and social workers than are needed in schools serving wealthy families.
  8. Schools of poverty need to provide more after-school and summer remediation programs.
  9. Schools of poverty need to offer competitive salaries to attract and hold highly qualified teachers.


Find out more in this article by Dr. Tony Lux, school superintendent

What is the complexity index?

The Indiana General Assembly establishes a per-pupil basic tuition support amount for each budget year. Multiply that times the district’s number of students (ADM) on count day in the fall and spring, and it is the state-funded amount school districts receive for general classroom expenses, including teacher pay.

The complexity index is a component of school funding that allocates additional money to school districts based upon the number of disadvantaged students served.It is based on a district’s poverty level and other factors. 

Why is the complexity index important now?

Some legislators are again asking why disadvantaged students need additional funding beyond the basic school formula.

What you can do about it?

Understand the issues and discuss them with people in your social circles.




The Star Press reports at least three articles from each board meeting, so earlier in the month new material for this newsletter wasn’t obvious. But the October 9 work meeting, the first for this board, had no press in attendance. The agenda included four topics: a possible Career Tech Education (CTE) arrangement with Vincennes University, school improvement plans, the leadership search, and Advisory Board (former elected board members).

Several years ago Vincennes approached the State Legislature and received $3.7M for CTE funding. There are now 17 school sites across the state with unique work force development tailored to local employment needs; none are in East Central Indiana. At Ben Davis, in Indianapolis, Vincennes established a small (400 student) high school of identical demographics. 100% are completing graduation with 80% earning an AA degree. Career tech is industry focused. Board President Jim Williams stressed the need in the Muncie community; local employers report middle-class paying jobs they cannot fill. Vincennes would bring a more robust career tech presence. It would not compete with Ivy Tech early college programs and would augment the existing MACC (Muncie Area Career Center) vocational program. For example, there are precision manufacturing machines that MACC doesn’t have. Retiring State Senator Doug Eckerty has been involved in the Vincennes approach and volunteered to work at no cost with MACC administrator, Steve Edwards (acting MCS superintendent) and local employers to identify work force needs in this area. The Board agreed to take this next step.

Three topics re-emphasized the unique MCS district created by the legislature. 1) All Muncie schools have completed a new school improvement plan. President Jim Williams reminded the Board that MCS schools don’t have to report their improvement progress to the state. 2) The Board is unlikely to use a traditional path to hiring a school leader, and that person may not be called a superintendent. (The money raised by BSU at the time of the legislation will pay for the search firm, as the traditional university-based superintendent searches have no cost.) The Board is looking for a charismatic leader with operational competence and an innovative spirit, who will focus on “collaboration with teachers and rigorous accountability unrelated to standardized texting”. It will be interesting to watch the structure for teacher collaboration develop, as the Board will not be utilizing traditional teacher organizations.

The Board recently surveyed teachers about qualities desired in a new educational leader. While the Board President commented that the information was “very useful”, he didn’t report what percentage of MCS teachers participated. Finally, four members of the former MCS Board attended the meeting to discuss the Advisory role they might take. Not surprisingly, the conversation was a bit awkward. Two agreed to work with a new board member on a specific project: academic dashboard and facilities. The Community Advisory Board (composed of unselected school board applicants) is meeting regularly to create their role.

Board meetings sites rotate between MACC and a school. Each school uses the first part of that meeting (about 45 minutes) to showcase their program and students.