Gov. Eric Holcomb and Republican legislative leaders want to provide schools with more certainty about funding for at least the first half of the new school year.
Funding became a huge question mark last week after Senate President Pro Tem Rodric Bray (R-Martinsville) sent a letter to schools warning them they could lose 15 percent of state dollars if they don’t reopen to in-person instruction.
State law normally restricts funding for virtual education. But Holcomb said, amid a pandemic, he wants to ensure schools get what they need.
“Alleviate some of the concerns, some of that uncertainty about funding for our schools," Holcomb said. "They have done a yeoman’s job, heroic work; I know it’s been a herculean task.”
Holcomb wants the State Board of Education to delay the required count of students at every school until December. That would seem to ensure schools get 100 percent of funding for the first half of the school year.
But any further certainty would require legislative changes. Holcomb said that conversation happens when the General Assembly reconvenes in January.
“And we’ll have the benefit of seeing where we are four-plus months from right now with COVID-19,” Holcomb said.
Outcry from members of the Senate Republican caucus over schools not reopening to in-person instruction casts doubt over the potential for that legislative change.
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In a statement, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer McCormick said Holcomb's proposal is just a delay.
"The Department [of Education] was informed late this morning of the governor’s proposed ADM count date delay. IDOE staff is in the process of reviewing for its potential financial benefits and consequences ... Hoosier schools deserve a solution to secure 100 percent funding as districts are bargaining, budgeting, and preparing for the next 18 months," McCormick said.