Indiana lawmakers are almost certain to approve a significant expansion of what is already a broad private school voucher program, setting one of the highest family income ceilings in the nation.
The budget proposal, presented Thursday to the Senate Appropriations Committee, would increase state funding for K-12 education by $408 million over the next two years.
The funding would instead go to courses in areas that are typically higher paying, such as nursing, biomedical science and welding. But critics say eliminating popular programs would narrow students’ options.
The report followed students enrolled in education programs at Indiana’s public colleges and universities to see how many received degrees, were licensed, and got jobs in teaching.
All Indiana teachers are now eligible for COVID vaccines under a new federal directive. Vaccines earmarked for educators are separate from the overall allocation the state receives, said Indiana State Department of Health Chief Medical Officer Lindsay Weaver.
Teachers say they are being removed from or moved down on standby lists at Walmart stores. The state says standby lists are to follow eligibility guidelines, and doses are not being wasted.
The budget proposal, which was presented to and passed by the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday, would increase state funding for K-12 education by $378 million over the next two years—a 3.8% boost from this school year.
A proposal winning early support in the House would eliminate many of the consequences for poor test performance that typically loom over Indiana public schools.
The proposal would allow local schools, universities, and other organizations to apply for $150 million in competitive grants to help students catch up.
Indiana politicians are seizing on the upheaval caused by the pandemic to push forward a vast expansion of taxpayer funding for private education.
The trend could have significant repercussions for thousands of Hoosier children who are missing out on early education that experts say is crucial to developing the social and self-regulation skills to thrive in school.
The state will review more than 100 schools under a new law that aims to stem the tide of students who leave without diplomas but are not counted as dropping out.
Katie Jenner, who is an adviser to Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb, formerly served as a vice president at Ivy Tech Community College.
Legislative leaders also said they hoped to stave off cuts to education in the coming budget—or even try to boost funding. But in the midst of the pandemic, leaders say the budget will hinge on coming revenue forecasts.
The Indiana State Teachers Association, which represents nearly 40,000 educators, say teachers deserve the right to bargain over working conditions, such as hours, prep time and class sizes.
The board faces a host of challenges, including how to cut the district’s spending, how to fulfill its commitment to racial equity, and how to stem the learning loss wrought by school closures during the pandemic.
The Indiana Department of Education is withholding federally funded coronavirus relief grants from schools that also received money through the federal Paycheck Protection Program, according to school leaders.
Several Indianapolis not-for-profits are creating a multi-site community child care network that will provide free e-learning supervision for students whose schools are operating remotely this year.
IPS struggled with the shift to remote instruction in March, but officials said they were taking steps to mitigate problems this time around.