By Erica Irish
INDIANAPOLIS — Lawmakers in the House passed a “top priority” measure to provide additional funding to K-12 schools Thursday.
Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, celebrated House Bill 1001’s passage as a victory for House Republicans.
“Our top priority for the House Republicans passed unanimously today with House Bill 1001, fully-funding local public schools this year and next,” Bosma said. “That was our very top priority.”
Rep. Sally Siegrist, R-West Lafayette, describes her bill to fund K-12 schools. Photo by Bryan Wells, TheStatehouseFile.com
The bill, authored by Rep. Sally Siegrist, R-West Lafayette, is a response to the unexpected enrollment of 6,000 additional students in Indiana’s public schools.
“Under House Bill 1001’s provisions, not a single Hoosier student in the K-12 would experience a reduction in their tuition support,” Siegrist said.
Siegrist said these numbers were not accounted for in the state’s biennium budget last session, creating a $16 million shortfall in funding student tuition. Without a solution, schools experiencing growth could lose around $15 per student, she added.
Her bill includes a transfer of up to $25 million from the state’s tuition reserve fund in 2018. By 2019, that transfer limit would increase to $50 million.
The purpose of the $348 million tuition reserve fund is to assist in situations like the one Indiana schools now face, Siegrist said.
“This is an opportunity for all of us, on both sides of the aisle and from every walk of life, to stand shoulder to shoulder to shoulder to ensure education remains fully funded for every student in every school in the K-12 in Indiana,” Siegrist said.
House Minority Leader Rep. Terry Goodin, D-Austin, supported the initiative, but later questioned the bill’s overall assessment of K-12 funding.
“I don’t think every school corporation would agree their students are fully funded,” Goodin said. “I think there will be some questions about the actual growth of public schools.”
Rep. Sheila Klinker, D-Lafayette, directed lawmakers to appreciate the wider impact this funding initiative may have on the public’s involvement in education.
“We’re hoping that this will encourage not only our students and our administrators, but also our young people—our best and brightest—to go into the education profession,” she said.
HB 1001 passed 96-0. Its counterpart, Senate Bill 189, is advancing in the Senate.
Erica Irish is a reporter for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.