Indiana lawmakers advance bills to ensure school funding due to coronavirus pandemic

The draft bills were filed in the House and Senate at the start of the 2021 Legislative session, both redefining what constitutes a 'virtual student' and ensuring there would be no reduction in per-student funding for traditionally in-person schools.

Posted: Jan 7, 2021 3:12 PM
Updated: Jan 8, 2021 9:52 AM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana lawmakers are expediting two similar bills intended to ensure schools receive full funding for all students, regardless of whether they are receiving instruction virtually or in the classroom due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The draft bills were filed in the House and Senate at the start of the 2021 Legislative session, both redefining what constitutes a “virtual student” and ensuring there would be no reduction in per-student funding for traditionally in-person schools.

A twice-yearly count of students attending schools is used to determine how much money the state allots to each facility. According to the bills, students will not be counted as “virtual” on Feb. 1 even if most or all of their learning takes place online.

Without that change, millions of dollars would be on the line for schools offering instruction online only.

Current state law caps per-pupil funding for students who take at least half their classes virtually at 85% of full in-person student funding.

That would mean school districts using hybrid formats or that only offer online instruction to minimize the potential spread of COVID-19 could lose 15% of their basic per-student funding, amounting to $855 per student.

House Bill 1003 unanimously passed the Ways and Means committee Wednesday and could get passed out of the chamber as early as next week.

Senate Bill 2 was heard before the Senate’s committee for Education and Career Development the same day, although it’s likely to take several weeks before it’s eligible for a vote.

“We appreciate that this is a priority of the General Assembly, and that it’s moving forward quickly,” said executive director of the Indiana Association of School Business Officials, Denny Costerison, at the Statehouse Wednesday. “What we’re looking for is fairness — to continue the funding that was considered to be right when the budget was passed in 2019.”

Still, the bills are temporary fixes because they would expire at the end of the spring 2021 semester.

While there were requests in both committees Wednesday to extend the date for the definition change — such as for the full 2021-22 academic year — Rep. Tim Brown, chair of the House Ways and Means Committee, said that amendment was unlikely.

Instead, Brown suggested lawmakers should wait to make decisions about future school funding until after larger state budget models are discussed.

The Legislature also doesn’t face a hard deadline of passing the bills before the February count date because the money distributed based on those enrollment figures won’t be sent to school districts until later in the spring, Republican Senate President Pro Tem Bray Rodric said.

“We would rather have this done so that the schools know going into the count how that’s going to work,” Bray said. “I feel very optimistic that this will pass both the House and the Senate with very broad support for it.”

State officials in September approved a similar method to maintain full funding for school districts during the fall semester. Legislators are now the ones tasked with finding a funding solution for the second half of the academic year.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb is expected to sign the legislation.

He has maintained that he’s committed to not cutting education funding — even as other state agencies have reduced budgets.

He also promised school leaders last summer they would receive 100% of state funding for each of their students, no matter how they receive their instruction.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 730969

Reported Deaths: 13434
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion1000031743
Lake53771970
Allen40668678
St. Joseph35733552
Hamilton35629408
Elkhart28577442
Tippecanoe22402219
Vanderburgh22310397
Porter18776308
Johnson17970379
Hendricks17244315
Clark12985191
Madison12673339
Vigo12449247
LaPorte11928211
Monroe11893170
Delaware10696186
Howard9924216
Kosciusko9410117
Hancock8284141
Bartholomew8070156
Warrick7784155
Floyd7669178
Grant7060174
Wayne7051199
Boone6700101
Morgan6576139
Dubois6156117
Marshall6050111
Dearborn581378
Cass5808105
Henry5720103
Noble561384
Jackson501773
Shelby491996
Lawrence4546120
Harrison435872
Gibson435492
DeKalb428485
Clinton427453
Montgomery424189
Whitley396139
Huntington391980
Steuben387857
Miami381866
Knox371990
Jasper366047
Putnam360760
Wabash354179
Adams341354
Ripley339770
Jefferson330981
White314354
Daviess297399
Wells291581
Decatur285492
Fayette280762
Greene278985
Posey271533
LaGrange266770
Scott266354
Clay260247
Randolph240781
Washington240732
Spencer232131
Jennings230149
Starke216654
Fountain212346
Sullivan211942
Owen200256
Fulton195440
Jay195130
Carroll189320
Orange183654
Perry183037
Rush173425
Vermillion169143
Franklin168135
Tipton162845
Parke146316
Blackford134932
Pike134334
Pulaski116845
Newton107834
Brown102141
Crawford99814
Benton98614
Martin89115
Warren82115
Switzerland7918
Union71010
Ohio56811
Unassigned0416

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1085733

Reported Deaths: 19441
CountyCasesDeaths
Franklin1261201400
Cuyahoga1124072120
Hamilton801491206
Montgomery515591014
Summit47292946
Lucas42275788
Butler38396584
Stark32412907
Lorain25046481
Warren24313300
Mahoning21629588
Lake20725369
Clermont19803238
Delaware18537133
Licking16436212
Fairfield16230200
Trumbull16082468
Medina15309264
Greene15099244
Clark14017299
Wood13113189
Portage12890203
Allen11675232
Richland11382199
Miami10686217
Wayne8843211
Columbiana8816229
Muskingum8815133
Pickaway8582121
Marion8539135
Tuscarawas8487244
Erie7917154
Hancock6929127
Ross6858155
Ashtabula6830170
Geauga6697148
Scioto6417101
Belmont5920167
Union571048
Lawrence5560102
Jefferson5544151
Huron5439119
Darke5364123
Sandusky5359121
Seneca5290121
Athens520058
Washington5160109
Auglaize491984
Mercer480885
Shelby470093
Knox4495110
Madison436661
Putnam4287100
Fulton423969
Ashland423189
Defiance421097
Crawford3978107
Brown395057
Logan382376
Preble379898
Clinton372963
Ottawa367479
Highland355662
Williams340275
Champaign333458
Guernsey316253
Jackson312652
Perry295350
Morrow285639
Fayette282250
Hardin271464
Henry269366
Coshocton265357
Holmes2611101
Van Wert243763
Adams238552
Pike237734
Gallia235949
Wyandot231555
Hocking215462
Carroll191647
Paulding173340
Meigs144940
Noble133337
Monroe132342
Harrison108537
Morgan108523
Vinton83515
Unassigned02
Fort Wayne
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 63° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 43°
Angola
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 43°
Huntington
Partly Cloudy
42° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 42°
Decatur
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 62° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 43°
Van Wert
Partly Cloudy
42° wxIcon
Hi: 65° Lo: 35°
Feels Like: 42°
High pressure will pave the way to another mostly sunny and pleasant day.
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events