Stand for Children Indiana issued a statement thanking lawmakers and Gov. Eric Holcomb for drafting a final budget that invests a significant portion of the projected $2 billion revenue increase in K-12 education, including funding that helps address the major gap in teacher pay that placed Indiana dead last in the region.
Stand Indiana and its parent advocates also praised the state budget compromise for its increase in funding for low-income children; special education; charter schools, which serve a disproportionate number of underserved students; and support for English Language Learners (ELL).
“It’s hard to believe looking at this budget that many parents and education leaders feared massive cuts less than a year ago due to the pandemic and economic downturn,” said Stand Indiana Executive Director Justin Ohlemiller. “We thank Gov. Holcomb and the General Assembly for putting forward historic investments in our K-12 system — especially at a time when our students, families and educators need support bouncing back from the biggest disruption in public education in more than a century.”
“This session marks meaningful progress toward both elevating the teaching profession and fairly funding students who require more support to get a fair shot at the quality public education they need and deserve.”
The significant investment being voted on today features $1.9 billion in new dollars for K-12 funding, including:
- $600 million more for teacher pay, as called for in the governor’s Next Level Teacher Compensation Commission report, along with a requirement for schools districts to spend a significant portion of state dollars on teacher salaries;
- An increase in funding for low-income students of $100 per student;
- An increase in the special education grant of 5% in year one and 10% in year two;
- $2 million to grow teacher residency programs;
- $150 million for learning recovery grants to help schools support children dealing with COVID-related learning loss; and
- An ELL grant increase of 18%.
Melissa Damm, an IPS grandmother who supports the learning of several public school students, was one of the advocates who supported increases for complexity funding, the special education grant and the ELL grant.
“All kids deserve the funding to get them the education they need and deserve, but for some students, it just takes more,” Damm testified last month in front of a Senate committee. “Schools serving kids who are predominately low-income, have special needs, or are learning English are at risk if our funding formula isn’t increased.”
Along with advocating for increased funding for underserved students, Stand Indiana parents have been pushing for several years to elevate the teaching profession and increase educator pay.
In 2019, Stand partnered with Teach Plus Indiana to commission a report on the teacher talent pipeline in Indiana. One of the significant findings was Indiana lagging far behind in average teacher salaries, requiring an investment of more than $600 million to place Indiana in the top half of states across the region. After an extensive advocacy campaign on teacher pay during the 2019 session, several meaningful investments were made to increase educator pay, and Gov. Holcomb formed a commission on teacher compensation to provide long-term solutions to addressing the issue.
In December, the governor’s Next Level Teacher Compensation Commission issued its report, which affirmed the need to invest at least $600 million to raise teacher pay. The commission report served as a guidepost for lawmakers in drafting the draft biennium budget this session.