The House Republican budget proposal is currently being debated in the Senate. One of the largest bombshells in this budget is the blatant redistribution of state funds away from poorer school districts. Though Republicans tout their agenda, which includes more money for education, their budget proposal will actually cut funding for many school districts across the state. Additionally, other school districts that have increases may not see enough to offset inflation. So what is creating this funding pitfall? In summary, it is the cuts to schools’ complexity funding that are causing a lack of adequate dollars.
Let’s start with some background on how Indiana schools are funded. The majority of the money that school districts receive from the state comes from two places: the foundation amount and the complexity index. The foundation funds are based on a school district’s enrollment. The complexity index provides money to school districts based on its poverty rate, as students in these districts usually require more services. Local property taxes fill the rest of a district’s budget, but the state has capped the amount that localities can raise property taxes which has had a drastic effect on schools’ budgets. In addition, Indiana law restricts school districts from moving money from one district fund to another. That is how a school can have the funds for building renovations but not have the money to raise teacher salaries.
Unfortunately, complexity funding has decreased in recent years even though students’ needs have not changed. You can see the quandary that arises with this contradiction. The Indiana House Republicans, however, had a chance this session to propose a budget that could fix these educational shortfalls. In fact, the Republicans even added educational funding increases to their session agenda. Once they released their budget proposal, however, it became quite clear that the supermajority was all talk when it came to ensuring adequate funding of our schools. In fact, their budget proposal takes money away from poor districts, while redistributing those funds to schools in wealthier areas. Schools that fall in between these extremes may see an increase, but those funding increases fail to keep up with inflation, making them less than impactful.
Ultimately, Republicans are taking over $100 million in complexity funding away from our most disadvantaged schools. The Republican budget does nothing to help students; it actually sets them up to fail because of deficient funds.
Here is a breakdown of just a few of the schools within the ten districts our senators represent who would be hit the hardest under the current budget proposal:
Senate District 1 (Mrvan): The School City of Hammond is poised to lose almost $2 million in 2020.
Senate District 2 (Randolph): The School City of East Chicago could lose over $1 million in funding during the first year of the budget, which equates to over $10 per student.
Senate District 3 (Melton): Lake Station Community Schools will lose over $30 per student in 2020.
District 4 (Tallian): LaPorte Community School Corporation would lose over $1 million in complexity funding during the first year of the proposed budget.
Senate District 10 (Niezgodski): South Bend Community Schools will lose over $1 million in total state funding in 2020.
Senate District 25 (Lanane): Anderson Community School Corporation will lose $20 per student in the first year of this budget.
Senate District 29 (J.D. Ford): MSD Wayne Township is poised to lose $28 per student in 2020.
Senate District 33 (Taylor): Indianapolis Public Schools will lose $44 per student under the budget proposal in the first year of the budget.
Senate District 34 (Breaux): MSD Warren Township could lose $2 million in complexity funding in 2020.
Senate District 40 (Stoops): Richland-Bean Blossom Community School Corporation could lose almost half a million dollars over the two years of the budget.
Democratic districts are not the only ones affected by this budget proposal. School across the state in urban, rural and suburban areas are losing funding at a time when they need it the most. Senate Democrats will fight for the remainder of the 2019 session to ensure that our students’ needs are met by altering the current budget so there aren’t winners and losers.