Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Vic’s Statehouse Notes #206 – March 3, 2015

Dear Friends,

The 2015 budget was passed by the House on February 24th calling for a 2.3% increase each year in K-12 tuition support. Governor Pence called the funding increase for public schools “dramatic.”

Careful review shows that the increase can be called dramatic only in comparison to Governor Pence’s own paltry public school funding proposal. By historical standards, a 2.3% increase for public school funding is still very low.

By the standards of previous General Assemblies, current legislators continue to give a low priority to public school funding.

Details of the Budget for Public Schools: Then and Now

The House budget raised the tuition support budget by 2.3% in the first year and by another 2.3% in the second year. In dollar terms, the first year is up by $156 million and the second year by $157 million.

Adding the two years together means that total new money increased by $469 million. This is reached by adding $156 million in the first year to $156 million to extend the first year increase in the second year. Then to lift the second year by 2.3%, add on $157 million. ($156 M + $156 M + $157 M = $469 M)

Some legislators like to add all this up for two years and call it a 4.6% increase over two years. It is time to use all that math you were required to take in school to keep all this straight.

Governor Pence considered this a “dramatic” increase because his budget only endorsed a 2.0% increase in the first year and a 1.0% increase in the second year. In dollar terms his increase was $134 million in the first year plus $134 million in the second year and $67 million in the second year to lift the total by 1%. That makes a total of $335 million in new money. ($134 M + $134 M + $67 M = $335 M)

The House is funding K-12 tuition support at a level $134 million more than the Governor recommended. ($469 M - $335 M = $134 M)

“Dramatic” in the view of Governor Pence.

But not by past standards of support for public education in Indiana.

Comparisons with Past Budgets since the 1999 Indiana Accountability Law

A 2.3% increase in school funding may sound extravagant to Governor Pence, but 2.3% is very low by historical standards. Here is the sequence of school funding increases prior to the Great Recession.

This is the budget history for Indiana for education since the bipartisan school accountability reforms were passed in 1999. These are not numbers or percentages that I calculated. I copied them right off the school funding formula summary page for each budget made available to the public each session:

(Source: Legislative Service Agency School Funding Formula Documents)

1999 BUDGET:
FY 2000 +4.7%
FY 2001 +4.7%

2001 BUDGET:
FY 2002 +3.5%
FY 2003 +3.5%
2003 BUDGET:
FY 2004 +3.3%
FY 2005 ($5.87 Billion) +2.9%
2005 BUDGET:
FY 2006 ($5.94 Billion) +2.6%
FY 2007 ($6.02 Billion) +2.4%
2007 BUDGET:
FY 2008 ($6.27 Billion) +4.1%
FY 2009 ($6.48 Billion *) +3.6%
2009 BUDGET: (June 2009 during the Great Recession)
FY 2010 ($6.55 Billion **) +1.1%
FY 2011 ($6.57 Billion **) +0.3%
2011 BUDGET: (April 2011 during the Great Recession)
FY 2012 ($6.28 Billion) -4.5%
FY 2013 ($6.34 Billion ***) +1.0%
2013 BUDGET:
FY 2014 ($6.62 Billion) +2.0%
FY 2015 ($6.69 Billion) +1.0%
*included Federal stimulus/stabilization funding of $.61 Billion
**reduced by $.30 Billion in Dec. 2009 due to revenue shortfall and by $.327 Billion during 2010-11
***adding the full day kindergarten line item to the formula during the 2013 General Assembly raised the actual FY2013 base expenditures to $6.49B.

It is readily seen with a quick glance at this history that prior to the Great Recession (2009) and passage of the historic voucher bill (2011), there was no year was as low as 2.3%. Even during more difficult economic times when there was no $2 billion surplus, like 2003, public school funding was given a higher priority and a bigger increase than the 2.3% increase in the current House budget.

In these times with a large surplus, why can’t our legislative leaders invest in public education in the same way the General Assembly did in the first ten years of Indiana’s accountability law era?

Categorical Line Item Funding

Besides the tuition support funding for public schools, every budget details categorical funding for specific programs like summer school and textbooks for free and reduced lunch students. I have attached a summary of several categorical line items, showing whether they went up, went down or stayed the same.

After you review the attached list, ponder with me the following questions along with other questions that may leap out to you in this list:
  • Why does the new fund for Turnaround Support staff for the State Board deserve $5.0 million when the Senator Ford Technology Fund for important technology improvements gets only $3.09 million?
  • After all the legislation about effective and highly effective teachers, why hasn’t a budget for Professional Development for Indiana teachers been restored?
  • Why has the budget for the Indiana Charter School Board been lifted from $500,000 to $850,000?
  • Why have mandated programs for English Language Learners been funded at only $5.25 million when the cost for ESL teachers across Indiana far exceeds that amount?
  • Why have free textbooks for low income students been funded at $39 million when the need is closer to $100 million?
  • How can districts serving large numbers of free lunch students and ESL students make up the shortfalls for textbooks and ESL programs when their complexity funding is also being cut in this budget?
Categorical funding line items deserve more attention than they generally get. I urge you to contact legislators about any one of these items that concerns you, as well as about the need to lift the 2.3% for tuition support.

What Will the Senators Do?

The budget is now in the hands of the Senate. Senators are already working on their budget plan including the plan for funding public schools. Every knowledgeable observer I have talked to expects the Senate to come in with a funding level less than the 2.3% proposed by the House.

Here’s where you come in. Public schools need more, not less, than 2.3%! The minimum increase in the decade prior to the Great Recession was 2.4%, as you can see in the table above. The historic average of this funding table (deleting the two budgets of the Great Recession) years is a 3.19% annual increase in school funding.

Raising the increase to 2.4% this year would cost the an extra $15 million in the budget over two years, money that could help mitigate the damage done to low income districts when funding for complexity students was reduced in the House budget.

As grassroots constituents in support of public education, contact your Senator or all Senators to ask them to raise the level to 2.4% or higher, which would at least match the low point of support in Indiana’s commitment to public schools in Indiana during the decade after the accountability law was passed.

Or will they tell you the historic commitment to public schools in Indiana is gone? Has it been killed by the voucher program and the marketplace of school choice?

I urge you to contact Senators about these crucial funding questions about tuition support and about categorical line items.

We need your participation. Thanks for your advocacy for strong funding for public education!

Best wishes,

Vic Smith

“Vic’s Statehouse Notes” and ICPE received one of three Excellence in Media Awards presented by Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an organization of over 85,000 women educators in seventeen countries. The award was presented on July 30, 2014 during the Delta Kappa Gamma International Convention held in Indianapolis. Thank you Delta Kappa Gamma!

ICPE has worked since 2011 to promote public education in the Statehouse and oppose the privatization of schools. We need your membership to help support the ICPE lobbying efforts. Joel Hand will again be our ICPE lobbyist in the Statehouse. Many have renewed their memberships already, and we thank you! If you have not done so since July 1, the start of our new membership year, we urge you to renew now.

We must raise additional funds for the 2015 session, which begins on January 6th. We need additional members and additional donations. We need your help and the help of your colleagues who support public education! Please pass the word!

Go to for membership and renewal information and for full information on ICPE efforts on behalf of public education. Thanks!

Some readers have asked about my background in Indiana public schools. Thanks for asking! Here is a brief bio:

I am a lifelong Hoosier and began teaching in 1969. I served as a social studies teacher, curriculum developer, state research and evaluation consultant, state social studies consultant, district social studies supervisor, assistant principal, principal, educational association staff member, and adjunct university professor. I worked for Garrett-Keyser-Butler Schools, the Indiana University Social Studies Development Center, the Indiana Department of Education, the Indianapolis Public Schools, IUPUI, and the Indiana Urban Schools Association, from which I retired as Associate Director in 2009. I hold three degrees: B.A. in Ed., Ball State University, 1969; M.S. in Ed., Indiana University, 1972; and Ed.D., Indiana University, 1977, along with a Teacher’s Life License and a Superintendent’s License, 1998. In 2013 I was honored to receive a Distinguished Alumni Award from the IU School of Education, and in 2014 I was honored to be named to the Teacher Education Hall of Fame by the Association for Teacher Education – Indiana.


No comments: