The state of Indiana operates on a biennial budget. Every two years, lawmakers work together to enact a law outlining appropriations for state programs like Medicaid, corrections and K-12 education. As we crafted the next budget, our students, teachers and schools remained a top priority with historic investments made in Hoosier public education.

We strengthened our commitment to students and teachers by providing $763 million in new funding for K-12 education over the next two years. In an effort to directly benefit effective and highly effective educators, we increased funding for the Teacher Appreciation Grant from $30 million to $37.5 million per year. With $150 million dedicated to paying off pension liabilities, nearly $70 million will be freed up for schools to distribute back to their educators.

When adjusted for cost of living, Indiana ranks ninth in the nation for teacher pay. However, only 60 percent or less of every dollar in a school’s budget makes it to the classroom. Although teacher pay decisions are made at the local level, a new law I supported strongly encourages schools to shift at least 85 percent of state funds to the classroom. With this shift in funding, traditional public school teachers statewide could see a 5 percent salary increase.

Teachers shape the lives of our future leaders, and those fulfilling this important job deserve opportunities to advance and earn extra compensation. Another law I supported creates new professional growth and advancement opportunities through teacher career ladders, while also establishing a mentor program to help new teachers. Now, high-performing teachers can pursue leadership and additional pay opportunities without leaving the classroom. Through the career ladder program, veteran teachers mentor those new to the field. This allows experienced teachers to earn more and grow in their careers while closing gaps in current professional development programs. Schools implementing career ladders can receive state grants to help fund these programs.

Educators are a vital part of our community. They instill integral knowledge into our young Hoosiers and help prepare them for success after school. By working with education organizations across the state, we found significant ways to further support Hoosier educators.

If you have any questions about legislation or new laws, please contact me at 317-234-9450 or h67@iga.in.gov.

State Rep. Randy Frye (R-Greensburg) represents House District 67: Ripley, Ohio and Switzerland counties, as well as portions of Decatur, Jennings, Jefferson and Dearborn counties.