Indiana superintendent seeks 3 percent increase in education funding

Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick on Monday called for a 3 percent increase for education support at a State Budget Committee hearing.

This increase, she said, would reflect the rate of inflation and would call for $214 million in additional funding in the first year and $221 million in the second year of the two-year state budget lawmakers must craft in the legislative session that begins Jan. 3.

One issue that has united lawmakers from both parties as well as teachers’ unions is a proposal to raise teacher salaries. McCormick said her department for the first time has surveyed teachers and found that 88 percent were not satisfied with their rate of pay.

That, she said, has led to 35 percent of teachers quitting in their first five years of teaching.

“We’re losing them as quickly as we’re getting them in,” she said.

While lawmakers are supportive of more funding, a 3 percent increase might be difficult to achieve. House Speaker Brian Bosma said Nov. 20 that legislators and various groups were working on a plan to boost teacher pay. But he also cautioned that there might not be much extra money to work with.

Bosma said after funding obligations to the Department of Child Services, that state would have an optimistic $50 million per year in new revenue for other funding requests.

The Legislature in the past has sought to boost teacher pay by appropriating $30 million annually for Teacher Appreciation Grants, which are distributed as pay bonuses to teachers rated “effective” and “highly effective.” McCormick is seeking the same $30 million for each of the next two school years.

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