Indiana leaders propose solution to ensure funding amid COVID-19 pandemic

Politics

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb is calling on the State Board of Education to ensure schools will get 100% funding through the pandemic. 

This would require a special meeting to push back the count date to December, so schools won’t be punished if they are operating virtually. Without the change, state law would require virtual schools to be funded at 85%. 

“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.

The announcement comes as schools look for ways to ensure 100% funding while keeping students safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recently, schools electing to start the school year virtually have been concerned that they won’t get full funding.

The current date for schools to submit the Average Daily Membership count is September 18. Schools are concerned that they won’t be able to get enough students back by then to ensure full funding. However, the state board of education can take action to change the date for, among other reasons, when there are extreme patterns of illness.

“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.”

House Speaker Todd Huston

The enrollment count, also known as the Average Daily Membership count, is used to set new funding levels for schools. While schools operating with a majority of students in schools get full funding, schools with at least 50% of instruction taking place virtually receive 85% of the foundation formula dollars for those students.

“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.”

Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray

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 board members to consider.

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