Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Governor, legislative leaders move solution forward to assure 100 percent funding for Indiana’s K-12 schools

INDIANAPOLIS – Gov. Eric J. Holcomb announced today that he will ask the Indiana State Board of Education (SBOE) to take action to ensure that Indiana’s K-12 schools receive 100 percent of funding as he committed earlier this summer.

Gov. Holcomb will ask SBOE to call a special meeting for the purpose of taking action to delay the fall count of student enrollment, commonly known as the Average Daily Membership, through at least December. The count date is currently scheduled for Sept. 18. IC 20-43-4-3 allows SBOE to take action to change the count date for, among other reasons, when there are extreme patterns of illness.

The ADM count, which is completed twice a year, is used to set new funding levels for schools. The count requires school districts to designate students who receive at least 50 percent of their instruction virtually as virtual students. School corporations in Indiana receive 85 percent of the foundation formula dollars distributed for virtual students.

Concern has been raised in recent days that schools electing to begin the academic year by providing virtual-only instruction because of the changing coronavirus conditions in Indiana would receive 85 percent of funding for all of their students once the count date occurs.

“Together with Speaker Huston and Pro Tem Bray, I have asked the State Board of Education to exercise this statutory authority to secure full funding to schools,” said Gov. Holcomb. “There has been a great deal of conversation around school funding in the last five days. It is clear that Speaker Huston and Pro Tem Bray share my commitment to fund schools to the full extent during this uncertain and unprecedented time.”

In the next several days, the governor’s office, with House and Senate leaders, will work with the State Board of Education and the Department of Education on the details of a resolution for SBOE members to consider.

“This solution will put to rest lingering questions or concerns so schools can continue to focus on opening schools safely and educating Indiana’s students,” said Gov. Holcomb.

Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray said:

"An important issue with the current school funding law has been discussed over the past several days. This provision of the law (IC 20-43-6-3) requires that students receiving 50 percent or more of their education virtually are currently funded at a lower level than students receiving their education in the school building. This law predates the COVID-19 pandemic and is automatic without some action to address its application under current circumstances. We believe that the State Board of Education has the authority under existing law to adjust schools' student count date to allow schools to receive 100 percent of their per-student funding. In the next legislative session, the General Assembly can take a fresh look at these statutes in light of the pandemic to ensure schools are adequately funded."

House Speaker Todd Huston said:

“House Republicans remain resolute in our commitment to provide schools with 100% of their funding during these unprecedented times. Due to recent concerns with the mechanism to provide full funding, we have all agreed that the proper course going forward is to support the State Board of Education in utilizing their statutory authority, which allows flexibility to change the enrollment count date during uncertain times, to ensure schools receive their full funding. We are so thankful for the efforts of our school officials and teachers who have been working tirelessly to serve students and open schools for this academic year.”