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Local Schools Not Meeting State’s New Budget Standards

A law passed by the Indiana General Assembly earlier this year requires school corporations to adopt a set of new budgetary goals, and some local school officials say they won’t be meeting those standards in this budgetary cycle.

Monroe County Community School Corporation Comptroller Tim Thrasher says the MCCSC won’t be in compliance this year. He says the Indiana law is part of a national trend among state legislatures to prescribe new financial goals for school corporations. But Thrasher says the Indiana legislature failed to consider the differences between school corporations when establishing the statewide law.

Thrasher says there are currently no penalties for school corporations that fail to meet the standards, nor incentives to reward those that do. But Thrasher says this will likely change once the state sees how school corporations deal with the law. The legislation establishes four major financial categories and sets standards for how much money should be spent in each one. He says the law aims to encourage spending more money on instructional costs, defined largely as teacher and principal salaries. The law sets a 65 percent benchmark for instructional spending. Thrasher says setting instructional costs at this level has little meaning.

Thrasher says the majority of school corporations in the state did not meet the new goals in their budgets this year. He says eventually the Indiana Department of Education will work with the legislature and the State Superintendent to come up with suggestions for how individual school corporations can bring their budgets into compliance.

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