Outside of parents, educators are the most important factor in student success. To ensure Hoosier children receive the best education, we must continue investing in our teachers and schools. Teacher pay remains a top priority for lawmakers, and we are working with educators and community leaders to build on our efforts from the 2019 legislative session to put more money in teachers’ pockets.
According to the National Education Association, the average public school teacher salary was more than $54,000 in 2017. Thanks to Indiana’s low cost of living, Hoosier teachers were the 9th-highest paid in the country. Unfortunately, we lose out to neighboring states.
Our current, two-year state budget dedicates about half of state funds to education, with more than $763 million in new money specifically for K-12 education. To directly benefit teachers, we increased funding from $30 million to $37.5 million per year for Teacher Appreciation Grants to reward effective and highly effective educators. We paid off a $150 million unfunded pension liability for Hoosier educators, generating an estimated $70 million annual in savings, which schools are encouraged to direct toward increasing teacher pay.
For some Hoosier schools, administrative costs have ballooned, and only 60 percent of funding makes it to the classroom. To help ensure every dollar supports student learning, a new law strongly encourages local schools to dedicate at least 85 percent of their funding to classroom expenses. If traditional public schools meet this goal, teachers statewide could see a 5 percent salary increase.
To ensure we have the best and brightest leading our classrooms, I supported new laws providing critical support to newer educators, while also creating opportunities for veteran educators to earn more while continuing to work directly with students.
These laws provide ways to improve teacher pay now, while we work to find sustainable, long-term solutions. Gov. Eric Holcomb established the Next Level Teacher Compensation Commission to find ways to invest taxpayer dollars wisely while paying teachers competitively. The commission and its advisory council, which includes educators and community leaders from across the state, will host an input session Monday, Aug. 19, in Indianapolis to hear from local teachers and community members. More information concerning the time and location will be announced in the coming weeks. Educators and others interested in providing feedback can do so in person at the Aug. 19 meeting or online anytime at in.gov/gov/teachercompensation.
The commission will provide recommendations to lawmakers before the next budget session on how to pay educators more competitively.
Educators are an integral part of our state’s future, and we must find ways to ensure they are compensated appropriately. By working together, I am confident we can find long-term solutions to improve teacher pay.
State Rep. Mike Speedy (R-Indianapolis) represents House District 90,
which includes portions of Marion County.
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