[r55] COLUMN: Remaining accountable to students, parents and teachers (10/24/2014)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Start Date: 10/24/2014 Start Time: 12:00 AM
End Date: 10/24/2014
Remaining accountable to students, parents and teachers

Education is the key to our state’s future success. Whether it was enacting the most successful school voucher program in the country or increasing our investment in education, the House Republicans remain committed to strengthening our education system, and I am pleased our 2015 legislative agenda reflects that.

Currently, K-12 and higher education funding accounts for nearly two-thirds of our state’s biennial budget. By placing the needs of our students, parents and teachers first, we will continue our work to improve education in our state, which begins by properly preparing Hoosiers for the future.

It is essential that schools have the necessary resources to ensure that students can succeed and compete not just locally, but globally as well. This is why our agenda includes ways we can improve our education system such as; reviewing the school funding formula, reducing overhead and focusing dollars on the classroom as well as creating a tax credit for public school teachers. 

For years, teachers have been spending their own money to help improve the quality of education for their students. According to Agile Education Marketing, teachers are spending more every year on classroom supplies, instructional materials, books for their classrooms as well as professional development. We will work next session to address this issue by providing a tax credit to help cover the cost teachers spend on supplies each year. It is essential that teachers feel they have the tools necessary to succeed without spending their hard-earned dollars in the process.

Being born and raised in our rural community, I understand the needs of our local schools. Ensuring a more equitable funding formula could increase the amount of funding rural community schools receive per student. Another issue we are working to address is that in the past, the bottom 10 performing school corporations received 30 percent more money than the top 10 performing schools, which to me is unacceptable. We are working to address this issue by making changes that ensure our schools are more equitably funded. 

However, we still want to make sure that schools are receiving adequate funds, which is why we will work to raise the foundation level of spending that Hoosier schools receive. To accomplish this, we will work to increase the per student base amount for each school corporation. The foundation amount is the starting point for the formula, and can be thought of as the minimum guarantee for each student. By working with teachers, administrators and parents, we can find innovative ways to focus more dollars on the classroom and further benefit students.

Like all parents, we want our children to succeed in life so they can achieve their dreams. I appreciate all of the sacrifices and dedication our teachers make each day to help students receive the best education possible, and by focusing on these education initiatives next session, we will work to benefit students, teachers, parents and Hoosiers alike.

Rep. Ziemke (R-Batesville) represents portions of Rush, Fayette, Franklin, Ripley and Decatur counties.