Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb on Wednesday announced a plan to avoid a situation in which school systems that choose not conduct in-person classes due to pandemic concerns receive less than 100% of expected funding.
Holcomb said he would ask the Indiana State Board of Education to call a special meeting to delay the fall count of student enrollment, known as the Average Daily Membership, through at least December. That count is used to set new funding levels for schools.
State law, as written before the pandemic, requires school districts to receive only 85% of their per-pupil funding for students who receive at least half of their instruction virtually.
Indiana Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray sent a letter to school leaders last week that said there’s “no guarantee” schools that choose not to resume any in-person classes due to pandemic health and safety concerns will receive 100% of their expected per-pupil funding.
That created an outcry from school officials who didn’t think it was fair for their funding to be jeopardized by actions they feel might be necessary to protect students and school employees.
Holcomb said by moving the count date from Sept. 18, as now scheduled, until next year, schools will get their existing funding for the rest of the year. By then, the General Assembly will be in session and will have the ability to change the law, he said, if necessary.
The proposal would allow state lawmakers to avoid calling a special session to change the state law.
“This solution will put to rest lingering questions or concerns so schools can continue to focus on opening schools safely and educating Indiana’s students,” Holcomb said in written comments.