Indiana

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Bite-Sized Budget Breakdown: How Are Schools Funded?

Background

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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TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY JEAN-PIERRE CAMP

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