NewsEducation / September 1, 2020

SBOE To Consider Changing How Indiana Calculates School Funding This Fall

Original story from   IPBS-RJC

Article origination IPBS-RJC
Educators and school leaders raised a number of concerns after a letter from a top lawmaker in August warned of possible funding cuts for schools operating only online to start the school year.  - Lauren Chapman/IPB News

Educators and school leaders raised a number of concerns after a letter from a top lawmaker in August warned of possible funding cuts for schools operating only online to start the school year.

Lauren Chapman/IPB News

The Indiana State Board of Education is considering a plan to protect funding for schools reopening virtually this school year, after a warning of possible cuts from lawmakers last month. 

It isn't the student-count delay Gov. Eric Holcomb initially requested. 

Instead, INSBOE is considering a different method, by adjusting how the state counts enrolled kids.

A memo to the board said the fall student count day will happen as planned in mid-September. It says rather than a delay, the state can use data from the last time students were counted to determine whether or not they should receive virtual-level funding. 

According to the proposed changes, schools would receive funding per student based on two factors: whether or not the student was learning only online last school year during the February student count date, and whether the school was operating as a virtual school at the time – before the pandemic hit.

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Holcomb's call for the board to take action came after a top lawmaker warned schools of possible cuts if they open only online this fall. He pitched the idea as a way to circumvent a 2019 law limiting virtual-based funding for schools, and allow lawmakers to address with the issue when the legislative session starts in January.

But school leaders and educators pushed back on that proposal, saying a student-count delay – and the unknowns about how much schools would receive based on that data – would complicate conversations directly tied to funding levels, like teacher pay. Many, including the State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick called for a special legislative session. 

The board is scheduled to vote on the changes at its meeting Wednesday morning.

Contact reporter Jeanie at jlindsa@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @jeanjeanielindz.

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