TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - Many Indiana school districts will see their funding stay flat or even shrink over the next two years despite a new state budget that increases money for education.
Indiana lawmakers last month approved a two-year budget that increases K-12 funding by 2 percent in the first year and 1 percent in the second.
But 121 school districts, or 42 percent of those in the state, won't see any additional money, and some could lose funding, said Terry Spradlin of the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy at Indiana University.
Spradlin told the Tribune-Star (http://bit.ly/16OO9Ld ) that changes in the formula by which schools are funded are designed to make the system more equitable. Some districts traditionally received much more in per-pupil expenses than others under the old formula.
But he questioned whether lawmakers are providing enough money to meet educational objectives the state has outlined.
He noted that the funding increase will be below inflation in the second year of the budget. Districts "will have a hard time continuing what they are doing without having to make cuts," he said.
Vigo County Superintendent Dan Tanoos agreed, noting that the additional funding doesn't make up for the millions cut from education by former Gov. Mitch Daniels' administration.
"It's still very challenging to keep up with our ever-increasing costs," he said.
Tanoos said his district hasn't been able to give employees a raise for two years and is looking for ways to cut costs without laying off employees or cutting academic programs.
Donna Wilson, the Vigo County School Corp.'s chief financial officer, said the district is prepared to tighten its belt again.
"We'll deal with the hand we're dealt. We're fortunate because we have been very responsible and have maintained a cash balance, although it's not as healthy as it once was," she said. "We have gone through several years of rough waters, and overall we've fared pretty well."
Information from: Tribune-Star, http://www.tribstar.com