ISBA asks lawmakers for significant new support

Statewide — The Indiana School Boards Association is asking lawmakers to invest in and support K-12 public education after Thursday morning’s state revenue forecast showed the state will collect nearly $2 billion more in tax revenue over the next two years than previously anticipated.

ISBA asks lawmakers to devote significant new dollars to traditional K-12 public schools to ensure they are funded in each year of the biennium with increases that, at a minimum, match inflation, which spiked to 3.0% in the Midwest for the 12-month period ending March 2021. The House-passed budget increased tuition support funding by 1.25% in Fiscal Year 2022 and 2.49% in Fiscal Year 2023. The Senate’s version of the budget bill increased tuition support by 1.23% in FY 22 and 2.94% in FY23.

“Here’s a golden opportunity to significantly improve K-12 public education funding in our state,” said Terry Spradlin, executive director of the Indiana School Boards Association. “Lawmakers have a real chance to improve the state’s standing on per-pupil funding, which in turn would allow our local schools to make major improvements in teacher compensation.”

Indiana ranked 39th in the U.S. in K-12 public per-pupil spending in 2018, down from 20th among states in 2005. Indiana ranked last in salary growth for teachers between 2002 and 2017. By driving much of the increase in forecasted revenue to the public education system and its students, lawmakers can help school boards meet the goals of the Governor’s Next Level Teacher Compensation Commission to increase minimum teacher pay to $40,000 and average teacher pay to $60,000.

ISBA also requests that lawmakers refrain from expanding school choice programs at the expense of the public schools that serve the vast majority of the state’s children. More than 180 school boards have adopted resolutions opposing the expansion of Choice Scholarship vouchers and the establishment of education savings accounts.

“The pandemic reminded us all of the vital importance of public schools to a functioning society. We should be celebrating the heroic efforts of our public schools, not undermining them,” said Spradlin.