Money money money money MONEY. Some people got to have it.
For Democrats working on the state budget, that last lyric has been amended to: Some districts got to have it.
The D’s are pushing hard to protect K-12 school funding for districts rather than students. In other words, enrollment numbers be damned; urban districts, which have historically received higher funding levels than others, should stay that way regardless!
Thanks to items called the “minimum guarantee” and the “deghoster,” declining districts like Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS) have continued year after year to receive annual funding increases – even as enrollment levels have declined dramatically. Today, most of these urban districts get far more funding per student than rural or suburban schools.
The Indiana Chamber’s education expert, Derek Redelman, notes that the state currently provides IPS with over $8,500 per student – far more than the $6,500 state average. When federal funds are included, the total for IPS rises to more than $9,400 per student, while the state average is just over $6,700. The numbers are even higher – over $15,000 for IPS – when local property taxes are included.
Yet, IPS Superintendent Eugene White today (one of a seemingly endless stream of testifiers, most of whom can now venture to the Statehouse committee rooms in their sleep) came before the budget conference committee with his hands out for more. Despite fewer and fewer students and additional increases in per pupil funding, White contends the money IPS gets from the state is still not enough.
White had no answer for Rep. Brandt Hershman (R-Monticello) when asked what districts should be cut to give IPS more money or whether he would support a tax increase to give his district more money.
According to Redelman, “This is the epicenter of our current budget debate. Democrats firmly back districts while Republicans want to fund students.”
Just how wide is the gap?
After it was noted that IPS funding would take a cut under the Senate budget bill (though it would get one of the largest increases per pupil) while the growing Hamilton Southeastern district would see an increase (but a cut on a per pupil basis), Rep. Bill Crawford (D-Indianapolis) imparted this bit of logic:
“We (the Democrats) are looking for a way to make K-12 education (funding) more equitable. If we have to bring the top (funded schools in the Senate plan) down to bring the bottom up, I’m for it.”