The fate of funding for Indiana schools now rests in the hands of the Senate, after the House released its finalized version of a budget for the next two years.
As we’ve reported, the House’s proposed budget tries to close the gap in state funding between schools in affluent areas and schools with high poverty rates.
Many school districts that traditionally get more state funding from complexity money testified before the Senate school funding subcommittee Tuesday to explain the detrimental loss that the reduction in complexity money will have on their schools.
Indianapolis Public Schools superintendent Louis Ferebee testified to the importance of dollars that go to low income kids. He says staff outside of teachers, like nurses, are crucial in IPS where a school nurse might be the primary healthcare provider for a kid.
Because of the reduction in complexity money proposed by the House, IPS could lose up to $18 million for the next two years. As Hayleigh Colombo of Chalkbeat Indiana reports, the IPS School Board is trying to move forward with creating its yearly budget:
State law requires school districts to publish and advertise their budget proposals before submitting them to the state by an April 1 deadline.
But at this point, IPS can only guess how much state aid it will receive next year.
The district simply cannot make a budget based on a proposed state budget that is likely to change, Superintendent Lewis Ferebee said. The best it can do is plan as if everything will remain the same and be prepared to adjust as the budget takes shape.
“It would be an overreaction or a knee-jerk to start the plan based on what we’ve learned thus far,” Ferebee said.
For IPS and many districts, the increase in foundation money isn’t going to be enough to counteract the drop in complexity money, making the districts make tough decisions on what to do with those dollars.
One of the biggest changes to the school funding formula in the House’s current budget doesn’t include students receiving reduced price lunches into their complexity index. It instead will use the data of students who receive free textbooks, which is based on students who receive free lunch.