In a recent letter appearing in papers across Indiana, State Representative Ron Bacon claimed a "historic" investment in public education. This is quite an exaggeration for his district. Three of the four school systems in District 75 receive cuts or negligible increases. According to the Conference Committee Budget, Pike County loses over $200,000 in state funding, South Spencer receives a 0% and a .8% increase in 2020 and 2021 respectively, and Warrick County receives a 1.8% increase in 2020. The rate of inflation was 2.1% in April 2019 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, meaning the budget does not keep up with rising expenses. North Spencer receives increases of 3.6% and 3.4% in 2020 and 2021 respectively. Statewide, new charter schools receive over an additional $38 million and voucher money increases from over $160 million to over $185 million by 2021.
Average funding per student in Indiana does no better. In 2009, $6449 was allocated per student, according to the Indiana University Center for Evaluation and Education Policy. To equal that level, funding should have been $7548.30 in 2018 as provided by the Stats Indiana Inflation Calculator. In 2021, this will be $7011.
The funding for public education from the Statehouse this cycle is far from historic. It cuts or barely maintains current funding levels for many school districts while continuing to funnel Hoosier tax dollars to charter and voucher programs. It does not even meet 2009 inflation adjusted levels per student. Hoosier students deserve better.