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Sen. Hershman: Committee Approves K-12 Performance Grant Proposal

STATEHOUSE (Feb. 20, 2012) — Today, the Senate Committee on Education and Career Development advanced State Sen. Brandt Hershman’s (R-Buck Creek) proposal to reward Indiana’s highest performing public schools with additional state funding.

Senate Bill 493 was approved 11-1 and will now be considered by the full Senate. Under this legislation, Indiana public school corporations could receive extra funding for annual achievement test performances if they have an overall passing rate of at least 85 percent or an overall improvement rate of at least a 6 percent from the previous year. Qualifying achievement tests would be High school Core 40 end-of-course English, algebra or biology assessments and ISTEP+ assessments.

In 2012, approximately 15 public schools achieved the qualifying ISTEP+ or Core 40 pass rates, and 18 schools had the needed 6 percent rate increases.

“Our schools need new incentives to achieve,” Hershman said. “K-12 education accounts for more than half of Indiana’s general fund budget. That includes remediation money for schools with the lowest ISTEP+ scores, but doesn’t offer financial motivation to schools for making improvements.”

Hershman offered an example noting that, for fiscal year 2012, Gary Community School Corporation received nearly $2,600 more per student than West Lafayette Community School Corporation, even though Gary had significantly lower achievement test scores. Data shows Gary schools received $8,433 per student plus federal Title I money, while West Lafayette schools received $5,846.

“This legislation is a matter of good public policy,” Hershman said. “I’m not questioning funding for other schools, but pointing out a disparity. Right now, because of our school funding formula, some of our highest-performing schools receive the least amount of state funding. We need to consider rewarding these schools and encouraging others to improve as well.”

Hershman also authored legislation to give high-performing schools more regulatory flexibility. Senate Bill 189 passed the full Senate 44-5 and is now awaiting consideration in the House of Representatives.