by Abdul-Hakim Shabazz
There’s been a lot of talk these days over at the Indiana General Assembly about increasing teacher pay and various proposals are surfacing to deal with the issue.
Governor Eric Holcomb wants to repurpose Teacher Appreciation Grant dollars (to the tune of $60 million over the biennium) to go towards salaries and tax credits for teachers who buy school supplies. House Republicans are “encouraging” school districts to dedicate 85 percent of their operational expenses to the classroom or explain to their constituents why that isn’t happening. Indiana Democrats, particularly State Senator Eddie Melton, has called for increase dollars to schools so that teachers can get a five-percent increase in pay over the next two years.
Frankly, I think before there is any discussion about more state funding for teacher pay, we should have a discussion about what schools are currently doing with the cash they’re getting. Remember, it’s local school districts that set the pay for teachers, not the state.
I did some preliminary research recently and looked at how much schools in Indiana were getting in state aid.
I went and collected some information from the Department of Education on how much state aid (Basic Tuition support and complexity grant dollars) traditional public schools have received since FY 2014 as well their student populations and the number of teachers, here’s I found so far…
- FY 2014 – 989,330 students/ 57,277 full-time teachers / $5,506,395,395
- FY 2015 – 985,517 students / 57,100 full-time teachers/ $5,498,031, 260
- FY 2016 – 1,022,461 students / 57,201 full-time teachers/ $5,746,947,138
- FY 2017 – 1,024,677 students/ 57,433 full-time teachers/ $5,848,240,464
- FY 2018 – 1,026,580 students / *** /$5,938,860,576
(The number for 2018 won’t be available until this summer, but it is fair to assume it was at least 57,500.)
There are a couple of things we can extrapolate from these numbers. First, while the number of students has increased from 2014-2018 (37,000) the number of teachers has stayed relatively flat, but schools received nearly $422 million more dollars since 2014 and this does not include the $289 million that Governor Holcomb wants to give them over the next biennium.
So ask yourself, if the number of teachers has stayed about the same, but there are more students and more money going to the schools, where are the dollars going? I think that might be the question that needs to be answered first. Who knows what we might find? I’m thinking more money for teacher pay.
Abdul-Hakim is the editor and publisher of IndyPolitics.Org. His opinions are his own, but you’re free to adopt them if you like.