Cook: Providing budgetary flexibility for schools

Posted by: Allison Vanatsky  | Friday, January 19, 2018

As a state representative and former educator, I am committed to supporting our schools and students. The legislature will be considering many new laws this session, and I am working on a few bills to help our schools.

Last year, I authored a law reforming school funding by creating two simple funding categories: an education fund and an operations fund. The education fund can only be used to pay for student instructional and learning expenditures, while expenses related to maintenance, capital projects, transportation, bus replacement, utilities and other operations can be paid out of the operations fund. Schools can transfer money between the two funds at their discretion. There is a third category, called the rainy day fund, which serves as a reserve to cover one-time budget needs as they arise.

This year, I am proposing a new law that would further condense these funding categories to provide even more flexibility to schools. Schools would be able to move money from their rainy day fund into the operations fund, as well as transfer unused money in the operations fund at the end of the year to the school’s rainy day fund for future use. This would allow rainy day funds to be used for important staffing expenditures, such as teacher bonuses and stipends. These changes are meant to provide schools more budgetary flexibility and organizational freedom to serve our students’ needs.

Another bill I authored would make it easier for adult students planning to join the military to complete their high school diploma, a necessary requirement for enlistment. Eligible adult students without a high school degree would be able to take classes at the high school they originally attended through the state’s online Course Access Program. The bill would also set a minimum GPA for all college students receiving financial aid through Indiana’s child of veteran tuition assistance program. This will ensure consistency throughout the state as current law requires the student to maintain a minimum cumulative GPA determined by the institution. An amendment I am working on would also ensure the minimum aid provided by this program would cover 50 percent of tuition and fees. This would be an increase for many students because the minimum is currently set to 10 percent.

As I work on this legislation and consider whether or not to support other proposals for new laws, please contact me with any questions or comments at 317-232-9678 or by email at h32@iga.in.gov. For more information about my bills and other legislation, visit iga.in.gov. Learn more about the work being done at the Statehouse by signing up to receive email updates at www.in.gov/h32.

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State Rep. Tony Cook (R-Cicero) represents House District 32, which includes all of Tipton County and portions of Hamilton, Madison, Delaware, Howard and Grant counties.

A high-resolution photo of Cook can be downloaded by clicking here.