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'Ghost' students cost Indiana $94 million in 2009

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An Indiana practice of paying schools for students no longer in attendance illustrates the need for changes in how schools are funded, the state's top education official says.

Indiana sent $94 million to schools in 2009 to support 16,315 "ghost" students who were no longer enrolled. Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett urged lawmakers last week to support a formula that would let education money follow each student.

"That's just absolutely horrendous that we're spending $94 million on students that don't even exist," said state Rep. Terry Goodin, D-Crothersville.

Under the current school funding formula, the state provides schools with funding for students who leave at a declining rate for three additional years. The practice known as the "de-ghoster" has been part of the funding formula since 1981.

Critics say the money should go toward districts with increasing enrollment. But state Sen. Earline Rogers, D-Gary, says districts need the money to pay expenses that continue even if enrollment drops.

"It's not money that's being wasted, it's money that's being used by those students that are left," Rogers, a former Gary school teacher, told The Times of Munster.

Indiana spends about $8.5 billion on elementary and secondary education each year.

A General Assembly committee is studying the funding formula and is expected to meet again later this month to recommend a plan of action for the upcoming legislative session.

State Sen. Ed Charbonneau, R-Valparaiso, the committee's chairman, said education leaders and lawmakers want "what's best for the students in Indiana."

"The different ways of coming at it — that's the struggle," Charbonneau said.

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  • I repeat
    The numbers for those schools that grow, and therefore the dollars associated with them, are misleading, as they ALL lose students after the 'dollar count' is taken in September. For example this year, if a student cound for a school was 28,000, that school will get monies relative to that count - even though in the weeks that follow it may lose 1500 students to IPS or another district. Those schools won't get those monies. They will stay with the school they were in prior to September 17th.
  • Check the Content
    Did you read the part about the money staying with the schools for three years? The schools that are losing students are keeping the money while the growing school districts are not receiving additional monies. So while IPS lost 950 students for 2010-2011 the hit to their budget won't be fully realized until 2013-2014.
    • MORE TAXES NEEDED
      Schools need more tax dollars to fund athletic programs, that is to be the focus of the public education system in Indiana schools
    • Money not wasted
      OK. Schools get there money based upon the student cound at ADM time. It is a fact that many schools, charter and township, lose students after ADM - some say even force out students - who then come to IPS for the remainer of the year. IPS doesn't get money for those stuents. The charter and township students keep the money they already have. This also needs to come under consideration.
    • really?
      I don't think its very productive to talk about how HSE or IPS is better than one another. The fact is they're very different systems with very different challenges. IPS has the difficult job of educating students who live in poverty in unstable homes and HSE has to deal with unsustainable growth serving mainly upper-middle class households. And to say all of IPS's schools are trash is just out-right false. I personally know many families that have the means to send their kids anywhere in the city and have chosen to send them to one of the quality magnet programs that IPS provides (such as The Center for Inquiry).
    • IPS is a Hole
      Anyone who thinks IPS is better than HSE obviously got an education at IPS and cannot compare and contrast.IPS is sooooo good that over the past decade thousands and thousands of people have FLOCKED to suburban districts to get a good education. IPS is a crap hole of a school system whose biggest problem is families that don't pay attention to their kids and want to blame someone else for it. HSE on the otherhand is an exemplary school system that has outperformed most other school systems in the state at a state funding level ranked in the lowest 5%.
    • Get off your high horse
      I went to IPS, then to IU on a full ride scholarship, then to Notre Dame law school on a full ride scholarship. IPS might no be the best, but at least I didn't have to attend a HSE school!

      IPS needs to fix a lot of problems. Letting all of the cash flood out when students leave does not help IPS build a better system, it slows it down.
      • C.R.E.A.M. Get the Money
        Also, If the money follows the student there are higher incentives to keep the students that each school has and attract new students through improved academic reputations. Win Win.
      • They do exist
        These students do exist but have moved elsewhere. The problem is, the money does not follow them. This is why growing school districts like Hamilton Southeastern are suing Indiana because the money is not following the students they receive. Under the current system, when a growing school receives a new student, only a partial amount of the funding goes to the new school while the remainder stays at the old school for a student who no longer exists in the old school. Most growing schools alreayd get a significantly less amount of money per student and new students pull even more money away from the students who are already at the growing school. This violates a students right to free and equal public education and needs to be changed. Much of this ghost money goes to IPS where they are the master of wasting money on administrators, curriculum directors, ect.

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        1. A couple of issues need some clarification especially since my name was on the list. I am not sure how this information was obtained and from where. For me, the amount was incorrect to begin with and the money does not come to me personally. I am guessing that the names listed are the Principal Investigators (individual responsible for the conduct of the trail) for the different pharmaceutical trials and not the entity which receives the checks. In my case, I participate in Phase II and Phase III trials which are required for new drug development. Your article should differentiate the amount of money received for consulting, for speaking fees, and for conduct of a clinical trial for new drug development. The lumping of all of these categories may give the reader a false impression of physicians just trying to get rich. The Sunshine Law may help to differentiate these categories in the future. The public should be aware that the Clinical Trial Industry could be a real economic driver for Indiana since these revenues supports jobs and new job creation. Nationally, this account for 10-20 billion which our State is missing out on to a large degree. Yes, new drug and technology development has gotten most of the attention (e.g. CTSI, BioCrossroads, etc.) However, serious money is being left on the table by not participating in the clinical trials to get those new drugs and medical devices on the market!!!! I guess that this is not sexy enough for academia.

        2. The address given for the Goldfish Swim Club is the Ace Hardware, is it closing?

        3. Out of state management and ownership. If Kite controlled it, everything would be leased. Of course, due to the roundabout, there is limited access to the south side of 116th now also. Just have to go down to the light.

        4. Hey smudge, You're opposed to arresting people for minor crimes? Sounds great! We should only focus on murders and such, right? Let's stand around and wait until someone shoots someone before we act. Whatever we do, we should never question anyone, frisk anyone, or arrest anyone unless they are actively engaged in shooting or stabbing. Very sound!

        5. You guys are being really rude to gays in the comments. (Not all of you, I presume). You need to stop it. Gays have just as much of a right to marry as straight people do. It's not fair how you guys are denying them equal rights. They're acting more human than you'll ever be. We obviously haven't matured since the bible was last updated. Hate the sin, not the sinner. You've all committed a sin at least once in your life. You've lied, you've stolen, etc. (Those are just possibilities). We should have a planet for people that support gay rights and a planet for people that don't. Then, gay people could get married without you bigots interfering with their love life. How would you feel if straights couldn't get married? How would you feel if teenagers were afraid to come out to their parents as straight? If straight people got hate everywhere they went? If straight people were afraid to go out in public, because they feared being judged? It's never going to happen at the rate society is going. You haven't seen the side of me where I act obscene. You're glad my inner demon hasn't been released. I would, but oh no, my comment would be removed because of my very strong emotions about this subject. I love gays, and love how they show their affection for each other. I just ADORE how a state is going to give same-sex couples a marriage license, then changes their mind. (I was obviously being sarcastic there). I just LOVE how society thinks gays are an abomination to our society. You're caring about marriage between two men or two women. That's a small thing. Just grow up, and let them marry. Let them live their lives. You can't make them change their sexuality. You can't make them change their lifestyle. In my opinion, gays are more than welcome to marry. Please, grow up and realize that people should be allowed to marry, even if it's same-sex marriage. You guys are saying that "the bible said gay marriage is wrong." Well, guess what else is wrong? Read Matthew:7 and you'll find out. (I am in no way breaking that. I am saying a fact). I'm stating that gays have just as much of a right to marry as straights do. (:

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