Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Local News

March 8, 2013

Bill would give high-performing schools more dollars, flexibility

(Continued)

Mike Shafer, the district’s chief financial officer, said the legislation, among other things, would allow some schools to offer “e-days”, which is when students stay home from school and complete coursework online.

He said the bill is aimed at schools that are “not in need of micromanaging.”

Herschman also wants to provide more money to historically high-performing schools. Those schools, typically located in more affluent communities, get less state and federal dollars per pupil than schools with high numbers of low-income students, because of school funding formulas that take into account such factors as family poverty.

He’s author of a bill that would create a new “achievement test grant” program that would funnel more dollars to schools with students that score well on standardized tests.

Senate Bill 493 would provide an additional $500 for every student that passed the ISTEP exam or the required end-of-course assessment tests in high school English, algebra or biology. To be eligible, though, a school corporation must have 85 percent of its students pass ISTEP or have a 6 percent increase in the pass rate for the end-of-course assessments. Only 33 of Indiana’s 292 school corporations hit either of those marks last school year.

Hershman said funding for the grant program would come out of the state’s $2 billion surplus and would not take money away from the existing school funding formula.  

On the House side, key lawmakers also support the idea of driving more dollars to high-performing schools. Their plan may come closer to the one proposed by Republican Gov. Mike Pence in his two-year budget plan.

Pence is calling for a 1 percent a year increase in school funding, with the second year’s increase based on schools meeting certain performance growth benchmarks.

Under that formula, schools would be judged not on how well they’ve done in the past, but on how much improvement they make from one year to the next in raising student test scores and graduation rates.

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