Batesville Herald Tribune, Batesville, Indiana

State News

July 26, 2013

New legislative mandates for local schools

INDIANAPOLIS—Figuring out ways to cut down on gang violence may seem like work for the police, but this coming school year, teachers, students and administrators throughout in Indiana will be enlisted in the effort.

A new law requiring every school district develop policies and practices to deal with teenage gangs is among at least a dozen new education-related laws with long-term impact that went into effect earlier this month.

Those new laws range from changes in the school funding formula to temporary relief for some schools from the impact of the property tax caps. But also on the list are laws that require schools to implement tougher anti-bullying policies, do more to crack down on chronic absenteeism, and boost efforts to get more parents involved with their children’s education.

“Over the years, schools have taken on so many issues besides reading, writing, and arithematic, that it’s become an ongoing expectation,” said Dennis Costerison, executive director of the Indiana Association of School Business Officials. “If something is going on in society, it’s going to be dealt with by the schools.”

Schools will have plenty to deal with in coming months, according to a new report by Indiana University’s Center for Evaluation and Education Policy, known as CEEP. The center identified the most impactful school-related legislation of the past session, with help from a diverse group of education leaders, including Costerison.

On the list is the biennial budget, which increased K-12 school funding overall by 2 percent in fiscal year 2014 and 1 percent in fiscal year 2015, for a total of about $6.7 billion. But about 40 percent of local school districts won’t see any increase in funding over the next two years and some will see a decline.

That’s because of the state’s school funding formula, adopted two years ago, eliminates the past supports for small school districts or districts with declining enrollments. The funding changes, being phased in over several years, are causing some schools to cut programs and personnel as they adjust to the new funding reality.

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