Lawmakers pass education funding increase

2.5% boost in both 2020, 2021 budget years
Lawmakers pass education funding increase
Updated: Apr. 25, 2019 at 3:56 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - Indiana lawmakers approved the state budget Wednesday, and with that, signed off on a significant increase in education funding for the next two years.

“A tremendous success for public school education in Indiana.” That is how Republican Congress leaders are pegging this $539 million boost in education funding.

It is a historic increase for Indiana schools, but may make minimal impact for some corporations.

“Here in EVSC we’re looking at a 1.6 percent increase and a 1.5 percent increase in our funding over the next two years. Now, we know the inflation index tells us it will probably be under 2 percent for inflation,” says Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corporation Chief Communication Officer Jason Woebkenberg.

Woebkenberg tells us EVSC’s state funding increases have fallen short of inflation for a decade, to the tune of $88 million, and this budget will not be changing that trend.

“Once again for the next two years we’re going to fall behind to keep in place with inflation on our funding makes it very difficult for us,” says Woebkenberg.

While he is encouraged to see education being part of the conversation at the state-level, funding is of concern, as 91 percent of students in Indiana attend traditional public schools.

“When you have a new budget that results in pretty significant increases for private school vouchers or for charter schools that doesn’t do much for traditional public school funding when we’re looking at even not keeping pace with inflation once again,” says Woebkenberg.

The amount of money schools see will still depend on the number of students. Some districts with declining enrollments could actually see less money despite per-student state grant increases.

The spending legislation takes effect July 1. It does not require the extra money be spent on teacher pay raises.

Republican Congress leaders say that decision can lie at the local level.

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