Senate Democrats call for school funding flexibility

Indiana Senate Democrats came out this week with a package of proposals that they say will provide more flexibility and local decision-making for funding public schools.

The initiative was a response to Republic Gov. Mitch Daniels’ decision in December to cut state school funding by nearly $300 million, said Sen. Vi Simpson of Ellettsville, the Democratic leader.

“We want to provide flexibility for teachers, administrators and parents to do what’s needed to protect instruction and programs, and to manage class sizes,” Simpson said. “That control should stay with the local officials, who know the corporation’s needs best.”

The proposals include:

— Let schools transfer up to 50 percent of their capital project fund money to their general funds, which pay salaries and benefits for teachers and other employees.

— Allow individuals to donate all or part of their state income tax refunds to a fund that benefits schools, in the same way they can now support the Indiana Nongame Wildlife Fund.

— Expand a 50 percent state tax credit to include contributions to public school foundations, such as Bloomington’s Foundation for Monroe County Community Schools. Continue reading