By Giavonni Nickson
Schools across the state in urban, rural, and suburban areas are losing funding at a time when they need it the most as the House Republican budget proposal is currently being debated in the Senate. One of the largest debatable components of the budget is the redistribution of state funds away from school districts with lower socioeconomic standing.
Republicans support their agenda to allocate more money for education, but their budget proposal will cut funding for school districts statewide. Some of the school districts that have budget increases may not have enough funds to offset the rising cost of inflation.
Indiana schools are primarily funded by a determined foundation amount and complexity index.
The foundation funds are based on a school district’s enrollment. The complexity index provides money to school districts based on its poverty rate, as students in these districts usually require more services. Local property taxes fill the rest of a district’s budget, but the state has capped the amount that localities can raise property taxes which has had a drastic effect on schools’ budgets. In addition, Indiana law restricts school districts from moving money from one district fund to another. Based on these restrictions, school’s can have the funds for building renovations but not have the money to raise teacher salaries.
Teachers in the Gary Community School Corporation have not received pay increases in the past 12 years. Chief Academic Officer Terrance Little discussed plans for teacher and staff salary increases during his Gary Community School Corporation 2018 end of the year report.
Gary Community School Corporation Emergency Manager Dr. Pete Morikis stated, “All employees need some form of pay increase to account for the rising cost of living. The staff and teachers have been dedicated and committed with a true desire to improve the lives of the students.”
State cuts to the school complexity fund pose a threat to increase the financial deficit. In Indiana, complexity funds have decreased in recent years despite the increase in student needs. The proposed Republican budget currently being debated may take over $100 million in complexity funding away from many disadvantaged schools.
Some schools within Senator Eddie Melton’s ten districts will receive the hardest hit under the current budget proposal:
Senate District 1 (Mrvan): The School City of Hammond is poised to lose almost $2 million in 2020.
Senate District 2 (Randolph): The School City of East Chicago could lose over $1 million in funding during the first year of the budget, which equates to over $10 per student.
Senate District 3 (Melton): Lake Station Community Schools will lose over $30 per student in 2020.
District 4 (Tallian): LaPorte Community School Corporation would lose over $1 million in complexity funding during the first year of the proposed budget.
Senate District 10 (Niezgodski): South Bend Community Schools will lose over $1 million in total state funding in 2020.
Senate District 25 (Lanane): Anderson Community School Corporation will lose $20 per student in the first year of this budget.
Senate District 29 (J.D. Ford): MSD Wayne Township is poised to lose $28 per student in 2020.
Senate District 33 (Taylor): Indianapolis Public Schools will lose $44 per student under the budget proposal in the first year of the budget.
Senate District 34 (Breaux): MSD Warren Township could lose $2 million in complexity funding in 2020.
Senate District 40 (Stoops): Richland-Bean Blossom Community School Corporation could lose almost half a million dollars over the two years of the budget.
Senate Democrats will fight for the remainder of the 2019 session to alter the current budget and ensure students’ needs are met.
Giavonni is a passionate freelance writer native of Gary IN. She covers business, politics, and community schools for the Chicago/Gary Crusader.