Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom


Bite-Sized Budget Breakdown: How Are Schools Funded?


Indiana’s state funding formula is the mechanism for determining how much money the state gives to each school corporation. Currently, each district receives a minimum amount of $4,280 per enrolled pupil. (Kindergarteners are counted as half a student.) “Average daily membership” is determined by a single-day head count. For the 2012-13 school year, that day was Sept. 14. ADM isn’t a measure of attendance — kids who are absent on count day are still included in the district’s total enrollment.

The formula is changed and modified during the legislature’s biannual budget process. Additional funds are distributed based on the number of students who receive free and reduced-price lunches, students who graduate with honors and students who have disabilities.

The legislature has eliminated a number of funding programs, including additional grants for small school districts and K-3 students. The state also eliminated the “de-ghoster” or “re-ghoster” program, which allowed schools to spread out any loss of funding due to declining enrollment over three years.

As Indiana expands choice programs like charters and vouchers, some districts have complained that they’re footing the bill for students who return to their local public schools after count day. That’s why the legislature added a second count day — Feb. 15, 2013, this year. In the future, it’s likely schools will see their funding adjusted based on the second semester count. Indiana Department of Education officials say it’s one more way to make sure funding follows the student in Indiana.

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Why Governor Daniels Thinks Small School Districts Should Consolidate

Governor Mitch Daniels backed a piece of legislation which would have forced schools with low enrollments to consolidate with neighboring districts.  The bill was eventually defeated.

About 20 percent of school districts in the state are rapidly facing a choice: either pass a referendum or consolidate with a neighboring school district.  In 2007, Governor Mitch Daniels commissioned a study titled “Streamlining Local Government” (also known as the Kernan-Shepard Report). Among other findings, was a simple suggestion– eliminate all school districts with […]

Are Indiana's "Rich" School Districts Getting Richer?

Election season is upon us, and aside from the usual blustering politicians and hopefuls, there’s another question appearing on ballots across the state: Will voters raise their own taxes to support local school districts? Political predictions are notoriously difficult to make, but the past can be a guide. We took a look back at the […]

Rural Schools Could Be Forced To Consolidate

During his presentation, Sheridan Community Schools board member Todd Roberts claimed that school closures would be hard on many Indiana small towns.

School officials at many of Indiana’s smallest districts are having a hard time balancing their checkbooks. There is mounting evidence that this is part of a concerted effort by Governor Mitch Daniels and the General Assembly to force consolidation onto districts with fewer than two thousand students. For the few attempting a referendum, it’s a […]

Q&A: Referendum Or Consolidation

John Krauss works with IUPUI's Public Policy Institute

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels talks alot about government efficiency.  In 2007, he commissioned a study to discover where local governments could streamline their operations. The goal was to find ways to provide the same services with fewer tax dollars.  There was one major educational suggestion to come out of that report– eliminate all school corporations […]

Discussion: Would You Support A Referendum In Your Area?

If your school asked, would you voluntarily raise your own taxes?  That’s the essential question voters in many of Indiana’s smallest school districts could be asking themselves in the next few years.  So how do you feel about that?  We want to here from both experts and voters, so tell us your theory.  Tell us […]

Q&A: Should Voters Support Referendums?

David Dresslar, Executive Director of the Center for Excellence in Leadership and Learning at the University of Indianapolis

School districts in three states neighboring Indiana — Illinois, Ohio, and Michigan — regularly ask voters for higher taxes and more revenues, often to fill critical holes in their budgets. Indiana might join them. This year, five districts have referendums on their ballots. Even after state funding cuts and a cap on property tax collections […]

Why The Property Tax Cap Amendment Doesn't Ensure Schools Are Funded Equally

It’s a classic case of the haves and the have nots.  Many small rural school districts are faced with high poverty rates, which effectively prevent them from raising funds through a referendum, while the state’s wealthiest districts have already passed ballot issues allowing them to raise their tax rates past the constitutional limit. Here are […]

How Your Next Trip To The Mall Affects How Much Money Schools Receive

Bargain shopping may actually cut into your the amount of funding available for your child's education

The best thing you can do to financially support your child’s education is spend money.

One of the common questions we hear is, “What percent of my sales tax goes to fund education?”  There is no actual way to clearly answer that question.  The majority of your sales taxes go into the state’s general fund.  Essentially, this is a big pile of tax money: sales tax, income tax, licensing fees – that sort of thing.  Once it’s collected, it’s then divided and spent on nearly everything for which the state pays money: education, road repairs, salaries, etc.  All told, K-12 education spending accounts for about half of the general fund budget.

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