Indiana moves student count to delay school funding question

The Indiana State Board of Education approved a method to maintain funding for schools reopening virtually this fall after warnings from lawmakers last month of possible cuts.

The unanimously approved plan allows the state to use data from the last student count in February to determine whether schools should receive full funding for their students, regardless of whether those students are receiving instruction virtually or in the classroom this semester.

Keeping in line with Gov. Eric Holcomb’s promise that schools will remain fully funded during the coronavirus pandemic, the new plan means school budgets won’t be penalized for students learning online this fall, as long as the students were not enrolled in a full-time virtual education program on the last enrollment count day.

The funding model is still a temporary fix, however. State legislators have pointed to current Indiana law, capping per-pupil funding for students who take at least half their classes virtually to 85% of basic tuition support. Lawmakers will have to decide during the next legislative session whether they’ll change that law before the next student count in February 2021.

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