New laws benefiting our local students

Posted by: Zach Weismiller  | Friday, June 5, 2015

Another group of bright, young Hoosiers in our community is graduating high school, ready to start the next phase of their lives. For every graduate and their family, this is an exciting time as they think about past accomplishments and set new goals for the future. Whether you plan on attending a four-year college or university, entering the workforce or joining the military, your personal experiences as well as the high-quality education you received in Indiana has prepared you for the next step.

Throughout the interim, I spend much of my time reflecting upon what we were able to achieve during the legislative session and what we can do in the future to continue improving our community and state. With that in mind, I am proud to say that we passed significant legislation which will benefit both our recent graduates and local students in southeast Indiana.

In 2013, 62 percent of Hoosier students graduated from a post-secondary institution with debt averaging almost $30,000. I supported House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1042 which requires colleges or universities to provide updates on their students’ current financial status. This includes an estimate of interest rates on their loans, an estimate of their average monthly payments as well as a student’s proximity to reaching their borrowing limit.

As a parent, I understand how difficult it is for recent graduates and current college students to fully understand the amount of debt they are incurring. By passing this law, we are ensuring that our recent graduates and college students receive critical information regarding their student loans so they can be more adequately prepared when it is time to start paying them off.

This session, we also passed several laws which will continue to support our K-12 students. In the budget, we increased the foundation, which is the basic grant that every student receives. For example, Batesville Community School Corporation is estimated to receive more than a 14 percent increase to their per student foundation amount over the next two years. What this means is that over the biennium, schools in their corporation will receive an estimated increase of over $350 per student over what they are currently receiving.

As a result of this substantial investment, every school corporation in our community will receive an increase in per-student funding. This will significantly reduce their financial burden while also increasing educational opportunities for our students.

I was also happy to see that we made it a priority to ensure that students with special needs or disabilities are receiving the additional help they need. Unfortunately, special needs students are not always presented with all of their educational options, but instead are awarded a certificate of completion. Without a diploma, it is often difficult for these individuals to find employment even though they possess useful skills that translate to the workforce.  HEA 1194 addresses this issue by requiring schools to present all diploma options to these students and their families while also requiring teachers to communicate with the student’s parent at least one time each grading period on the student’s progress toward the diploma.

I wish every graduate the best of luck in their future endeavors and look forward to continuing to advocate for our local students, teachers, parents and administrators. As always, if you have any questions about these or any other new laws, please contact me by calling 317-232-9815 or emailing h55@iga.in.gov.

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Rep. Ziemke (R-Batesville) represents portions of Rush, Fayette, Franklin, Ripley and Decatur counties. She serves as Vice Chair of the Family, Children and Human Affairs Committee. She also serves on the Courts and Criminal Code Committee and Select Committee on Government Reduction.