Indiana is one step closer to a scholarship program that would attract more high school students to the teaching profession.
The program, created as part of House Bill 1002, was reinstated in a conference committee report after the Senate removed it from the bill.
The plan, authored by House Speaker Brian Bosma, would give 200 college students $7,500 a year in tuition assistance as long as they attend a university in Indiana and study education.
After passing the House, the Senate voted to study the issue rather than create the program. The main concern was how to fund the program, especially during a non-budget session.
The conference committee, made up of representatives from both the House and Senate, reinstated language creating the program and allocated $500,000 to the Commission for Higher Education to start it.
Under the language in the conference committee report, the CHE has until December to establish the selection process for who gets the scholarship.
By not allowing the CHE to administer scholarships until fall of 2017, the conference committee report still allows time to study and create best practices for the program and study scholarship options for potential teachers in other states.
The scholarship program is a response to the teacher shortage in Indiana, which arose after Department of Education reports showed they were issuing fewer new teacher licenses in the state.
During the conference committee, Rep. Vernon Smith, D-Gary, expressed concern that this program won’t help classrooms immediately find teachers.
“This is a long term fix for the teacher shortage. We have no short term fix,” he said.
But other committee members, such as Sen. Ryan Mischler, R-Bremen, said this program is a good start.
The bill still must go to the Rules committee and the full House and Senate for final approval before heading to the governor.