Mt. Vernon Register-News

CNHI Special Projects

February 11, 2013

Bill would give high-performing schools more dollars, flexibility

INDIANAPOLIS — After focusing on failing schools in recent legislative sessions, some Indiana lawmakers say it’s time to reward high-performing schools with more money and more flexibility.

They’re pushing for legislation that would free up the state’s top-achieving schools from some state regulations — including the mandatory 180-day calendar — and send more dollars to schools with historically high graduation rates and student test scores.

“We’ve literally done nothing to encourage our high-performing school districts,” said Republican state Sen. Brandt Hershman, the influential chair of the Senate tax and fiscal policy committee. “Most of our efforts have been focused on those schools that perpetually have under-performed.”

Hershman, of Buck Creek, said past legislation aimed at failing schools, which brought more state oversight and more dollars for “turnaround” efforts, was needed.

But the state also needs to play a role in supporting high-performing schools, he said, giving them the latitude to become “laboratories for innovation.”

Hershman is co-author of a bill expected to come to a vote in the Senate this week that would give continually top-performing school districts in the state more autonomy.

Senate Bill 189, if it became law, would allow those districts to develop some of their own curriculum, to create their own teacher evaluations, and to organize classroom time based on instructional minutes instead of the current 180-day school year requirement.

To qualify, schools would have to meet certain goals, including a 90 percent graduation rate and higher SAT scores than statewide averages.

The bill, championed by Republican state Sen. Mike Delph of Carmel, has the enthusiastic support of administrators with the Zionsville Community  Schools, a fast-growing and high-performing school district.

They see it as a way to get some relief from the financial pressures created three years ago when the state cut $300 million in funding to K-12 schools.

Mike Shafer, the district’s chief financial officer, said the legislation, among other things, would allow some schools to offer “e-days,” enabling students to stay home from school and complete coursework online.

He said the bill is aimed at schools that are “not in need of micromanaging.”

Herschman also wants to provide more money to historically high-performing schools. Those schools, typically located in more affluent communities, get less state and federal dollars per pupil than schools with high numbers of low-income students, because of school funding formulas that take into account such factors as family poverty.

He’s author of a bill that would create a new “achievement test grant” program that would funnel more dollars to schools with students that score well on standardized tests.

Senate Bill 493 would provide an additional $500 for every student who passed the ISTEP exam or the required end-of-course assessment tests in high school English, algebra or biology. To be eligible, a school corporation would have to have 85 percent of its students pass ISTEP or have a 6 percent increase in the pass rate for the end-of-course assessments. Only 33 of Indiana’s 292 school corporations hit either of those marks last school year.

Hershman said funding for the grant program would come out of the state’s $2 billion surplus and would not take money away from the existing school funding formula.  

On the House side, key lawmakers also support the idea of driving more dollars to high-performing schools. Their plan may come closer to the one proposed by Republican Gov. Mike Pence in his two-year budget plan.

Pence is calling for a 1 percent a year increase in school funding, with the second year’s increase based on schools meeting certain performance growth benchmarks.

Under that formula, schools would be judged not on how well they’ve done in the past, but on how much improvement they make from one year to the next in raising student test scores and graduation rates.

“The goal would be to give it to schools that are really meeting the needs of all students,” said House Education Chairman Bob Behning, an Indianapolis Republican.

“Schools with student populations that are more difficult to educate and that are doing a great job of moving those students forward, those are the schools that are going to get more money,” Behning said.

Behning is expected to start hammering out the details of the House version of performance-pay for schools when the House education committee meets Tuesday.

Maureen Hayden covers the Statehouse for the CNHI newspapers. She can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com

 

1
Text Only
CNHI Special Projects
  • Why do wolves howl?

    Of all the myths that dog the wolf, none is more widely accepted than the idea that wolves howl at the moon. Images of wolves with their heads upturned, singing at the night sky, are as unquestioned as a goldfish's three-second memory or a dog's color-blindness (both also myths).

    April 18, 2014

  • quake.jpg Pennsylvania won’t take action following Ohio ruling on quakes, fracking

    Pennsylvania officials plan no action despite new Ohio rules on drilling that affect a seismically active area near the state line.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • The case for separate beds

    The other night I slept on a twin bed in the guest room of the house I share with my husband and our two kids.
    It was the best night's sleep I've had in years.

    April 17, 2014

  • Raw oysters spike U.S. rise in bacterial infections, CDC reports

    Raw oysters, so good with hot sauce, increasingly can carry something even more unsettling to the stomach: A bacteria linked to vomiting, diarrhea and pain.

    April 17, 2014

  • Low blood-sugar levels make for grousing spouses

    Husbands and wives reported being most unhappy with their spouses when their blood-sugar levels were lowest, usually at night, according to research released this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Missing a meal, dieting or just being hungry may be the reason, researchers said.

    April 16, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.51.22 PM.png VIDEO: Toddler climbs into vending machine

    A child is safe after climbing into and getting stuck inside a claw crane machine at a Lincoln, Neb., bowling alley Monday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • portraitoflotte.jpg VIDEO: From infant to teen in four minutes

    Dutch filmmaker Frans Hofmeester’s time lapse video of his daughter, Lotte — created by filming her every week from her birth until she turned 14 — has become a viral sensation.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Victimized by the 'marriage penalty'

    In a few short months, I'll pass the milestone that every little girl dreams of: the day she swears - before family and God, in sickness and in health, all in the name of love - that she's willing to pay a much higher tax rate.

    April 15, 2014

  • treadmill-very-fast.jpg Tax deduction for a gym membership?

    April marks another tax season when millions of Americans will deduct expenses related to home ownership, children and education from their annual tax bill. These deductions exist because of their perceived value to society; they encourage behaviors that keep the wheels of the economy turning. So why shouldn't the tax code be revised to reward preventive health?

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Google acquires drone maker Titan Aerospace to spread Internet

    Google is adding drones to its fleets of robots and driverless cars.
    The Internet search company said it acquired Titan Aerospace, the maker of high-altitude, solar-powered satellites that provides customer access to data services around the world. Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

    April 14, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks