Last week the state of Indiana was facing a budget deadline that threatened to shut down the state government. In a last hour attempt to pass a “bi-partisan” (i.e. Republican-friendly) two year budget, changes were made that would allow for minimal increases in education funding. Minimal being the key word: 1.1 percent for the first year and 0.3 percent for the second year.
Certainly we can all agree that a 0.3 percent increase in funding is not enough to keep pace with inflation. For the past two years education funding has been increasing at an annual rate of 4 percent. Worse yet, however, is the formula they use to determine how much a school district receives. Instead of having a minimum guarantee, districts that lose population will lose money and districts that gain population will gain money.
It is estimated that Indianapolis Public Schools, the state’s largest district, will lose 2.8 percent of its budget in the first year and another 4.3 percent in the budget’s second year. Other major urban centers face similar realities, such as Gary, which will see a decrease of 3.6 percent and 4 percent over the next two years. Even rural districts that face population decline are going to hurt under this budget. Likely the only districts to benefit will be those in the Indianapolis suburbs where growth is the highest.
In other words, the places that need the money the most will be getting less and less, while well-to-do districts in the suburbs will be getting more. Typical of a Republican budget. You wouldn’t even need to lose students under this formula to lose money. If another district gains and you just stay even, they’re going to get an increase in their share while you will not. I don’t want to see this state look like California, but damn, you have to set your priorities straight. Republicans don’t understand that.