Strengthening our education system

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Strengthening our education system

Education has always been a top priority for the House Republicans. More than 50 percent of our state's biennial budget is allotted to fund kindergarten through 12th grade. As a part of this year's budget, we will work to focus more dollars on the classroom and fix the school funding formula.

To better understand the funding formula, it's important to learn how we currently appropriate funds to our schools. The first step is to establish the foundation amount or the starting point for the funding formula. The foundation amount is essentially the minimum guarantee for each student and is currently $4,587 per student for fiscal year 2015.

From the foundation amount, adjustments are made for several variables including the number of low-income students; the number of special education students; the number of career and technical education students; and the number of honors diplomas awarded.

After the foundation is applied, the complexity index is used to increase the funding for low-income students. In the 2013 budget bill, the complexity index focused on students receiving free and reduced lunch for the first part of the biennium and then switched to focusing on students receiving free textbooks.

As an advocate for education, I am pleased that nearly $500,000 in grants have been made available by the Office of Early Childhood and Out-of-School Learning and Early Learning Indiana. These grants can be applied for by any Lake County program or facility that participates, or agrees to participate, in the On My Way Pre-K Pilot Program. Applications for grants are due February 15 and can be found here, along with information about the On My Way Pre-K Program.

Please contact my office if you have any questions about the funding formula, education or any other concern. I appreciate any input and feedback I receive as I represent our community.

To sign-up for Rep. Olthoff's e-newsletters and find contact information, click here.