A new state funding formula would give more money to every local school district except the one with the greatest percentage of low-income students.
Center Grove, Clark-Pleasant, Franklin, Greenwood and Nineveh-Hensley-Jackson schools would get 1 to 5 percent more in the state budget that legislators were considering as they worked into the night Wednesday on the final day of the 2015 session.
Edinburgh schools would lose funding under the new formula, with estimates showing a drop of nearly 5 percent. The school district already has the highest percentage of low-income students among all public schools and had received extra money to help pay for aides. In earlier budget proposals, Edinburgh was set to lose less than 4 percent.
Even with the cut, Edinburgh schools would get more money per student than any other district.
School districts use state funding to pay for one of their main expenses — salaries and benefits for teachers and staff.
Each district gets a certain amount of money per student. How much they get is decided based on a statewide formula that takes into account factors such as how many students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.
This year, state lawmakers tweaked the formula after school officials complained they weren’t getting enough. Legislators have to approve the new funding formula as part of the state’s two-year budget.
Edinburgh also is losing some of its Title I funding, meant to help educate children from lower incomes, and about 15 percent of what it could collect due to property tax caps.
“It’s ridiculous what they are asking us to do, with little or nothing,” Superintendent William Glentzer said.
The school district already has made cuts, including outsourcing lawn service, which saved about $30,000. Losing more funding makes it difficult to add or expand programs for students, such as adding AP courses, Glentzer said.
“It’s frustrating. I just hate it for our kids,” he said.
The district doesn’t have the funding options of other school districts, such as getting grants from educational foundations or large donations or advertisers or sponsors spending $500,000 on athletic facilities, Glentzer said. So officials will have to look at other areas to make cuts, such as not replacing teachers when they leave or retire, he said.
“It is what it is, and I understand it’s probably not going to get any better,” he said. “We will deal with it, and we will survive.”
Under the new formula’s estimates, local school districts would receive between $5,957 and $6,791 per student enrolled next year.
Center Grove officials started contacting lawmakers with concerns about the funding formula last year and encouraged residents in White River Township to do the same. Superintendent Richard Arkanoff and officials from Carmel, Zionsville and other school districts also spoke to lawmakers about concerns they had that residents’ tax dollars aren’t always used at their home school district.
Some districts across the state, such as in Gary or Indianapolis Public Schools, would lose significant amounts of money under the new formula.
Among county school districts, Center Grove would receive the biggest increase in funding per student, a nearly 5 percent hike in the first year of the budget, according to the estimates.
Center Grove has been among the districts that receive the least amount of money per student, chief financial officer Paul Gabriel said. Center Grove officials still want to study the formula before divvying up any new money, he said. All of Center Grove’s school buildings have needs that should be addressed, he added.
“I think it’s a positive outcome, without a doubt,” Gabriel said.
Franklin would get about 2 percent more. Exactly how much that will mean in added funding will depend on student enrollment, which officials hope will increase in the fall, executive director of finance Jeff Mercer said.
The district already loses more than $2 million per year to property tax caps, so officials are glad the school isn’t losing added money, he said.
“We feel fortunate in that regard that we’re not losing and we have that money to work with,” Mercer said.
Here is a look at estimates of how much funding school districts would get per student under the new school funding formula:
SOURCE: School funding formula estimates