Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed education bills Thursday that will revamp the State Board of Education, speed up state intervention into failing schools and give teachers more flexibility to experiment in the classroom.
The new two-year state spending plan was approved by the General Assembly last week. Slightly more than half of the $31 billion budget goes toward K-12 education, with funding going up 2.3 percent each year.
Legislative Democrats say they plan to push next year to add nondiscrimination protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity to the Indiana civil-rights law covering education, employment, public accommodations and housing.
Lawmakers passed bills on topics ranging from ethics reform to "religious freedom." Meanwhile, they shot down legislation that would have helped the Indy Eleven build or renovate a stadium and that would have permitted Sunday alcohol sales.
As Indiana's fast-growing suburban districts breathe a sigh of relief with more funding on the way, many urban and rural districts are bracing for drastic cuts under the state's new budget and experts say there might not be a middle ground between the two.