[r54] The direction of education in Indiana (4/12/2010)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Start Date: 4/12/2010 All Day
End Date: 4/12/2010

The discussion on the direction of education in the House has been widely debated and talked about for much of the duration this session.

I believe it's important to allow schools to have flexibility with their funds to ensure parents and students of having the option of school choice. It's also important that we allow school funding flexibility so teachers aren't being laid off.

These are two critical issues that Indiana is facing in regards to education.

Recently, my colleagues and I proposed a plan that would provide helpful solutions to both of these issues in being resolved. Under our plan, each school would be allowed to transfer money into its general operating fund from other school funds to use where they need it the most.

The House minority plan would have given schools access to five times more money than what would be available under the House majority plan. We need to focus all additional dollars on the classroom to ensure a bright future for the state of Indiana.

Currently, these funds are banned under law from being used for general school operating costs.

I want to ensure that our schools have the choice to make decisions that best meets their needs. 

The House Republican proposal offered maximum flexibility, sufficient funds to cover the budget cuts and protected teachers from layoffs.

During these tough economic times, I feel it's important to give schools the flexibility to fully compensate their reductions in state funding. After the administration went through a process to cut non-education government spending it still resulted in funding reductions.

This in turn led to declining state tax revenue, streamlining government services and freezing state employee salaries. 

The House majority plan simply doesn't allow the flexibility that schools need and deserve to have. Under this plan, schools are permitted to transfer up to 5% of their Capital Projects Fund to their general operating fund.

Unfortunately, this plan also delays valuable school reform initiatives, does away with important test preparation programs, allows fund transfers without any restrictions and only gives schools access up to $57 million statewide, which is far less than the $300 million that would be available under the House Republican proposal.  

I will spend the remaining days of this session working to give schools increased financial flexibility during these difficult economic times. We have to understand the value of giving the student the option of school choice, funding flexibility and avoiding teacher layoffs across the state of Indiana.

I am confident that we will work together in the coming weeks to come up with a solution pertaining to these important matters. I will continue to work this session for legislation that is accommodating to all Hoosiers statewide.