INDIANAPOLIS — Increasing Indiana teacher salaries is something lawmakers across the state are talking about. Democrats or Republicans, both sides want the salaries for the state’s educators to increase.
Ind. Gov. Eric Holcomb even pushed for it in his State of the State address.
“I’ll bet everyone here had a teacher who had a profound impact on your life,” Holcomb said Tuesday night. “I’ve had several. I’ve come to appreciate and respect them more and more each day. And one way to attract and retain more of those teachers is to make teacher pay more competitive.”
Ind. Rep. Ryan Hatfield, D-Evansville, is trying to make all teachers in Indiana make at least $50,000 per year. He filed House Bill 1611, which would raise the minimum salary for full-time teachers to $50,000 per year.
“It is no secret that Indiana teachers are either leaving the occupation or the state because they are not paid enough,” Hatfield said via a news release. “We need good teachers in Indiana to improve our schools and prepare our students. To have good teachers, we need to pay them the wage they deserve.”
On average, Indiana teachers made $54,308 in 2017, according to the National Education Association . That puts the state 26th in the country. But Indiana teachers start at an average salary of $35,241, well below the $50,000 mark.
House Bill 1611 would also eliminate textbook fees by requiring public school to provide the materials free for parents. According to 2018 data, Indiana is one of just eight states that does not require public schools to provide books to students at no charge.
Last year, Rep. Scott Pelath, D-Michigan City, introduced a bill that would create a fund to reimburse public schools for paying for students' textbooks. The bill died in committee.
“Indiana is one of the few states in the nation that requires families to pay for the textbooks their children use in our schools,” Hatfield said. “Sometimes these costs run as high as $300 a year. It simply isn’t right for families to pay these costs to ensure their children receive the education to which they are entitled. It creates impossible situations that force both the parents and the schools to make difficult decisions.”
Last year, the Evansville Vanderburgh School corporation sued 500 people for unpaid fees including textbooks and laptop rentals, meals and daycare services. The people sued owed the school corporation between $21 and $1,400, according to Hatfield’s office.
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