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Indiana lawmakers asks schools to spend differently, raise teacher pay

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Republicans at the Statehouse on Wednesday had a message for school leaders: They should spend differently with the eventual goal of raising teacher pay.

“We’re trying to put more money into the classrooms versus the administration, to focus on the children.” said state Rep. Dale DeVon, a Republican from Granger.

The idea, House Bill 1003, is just a few steps away from Gov. Eric Holcomb‘s desk, where his signature would turn the spending measure into law. DeVon said Holcomb is “excited about the bill as well.”

The bill would recommend that school districts move up to 15% of educational money to operations, but that recommendation won’t be required. An eventual hope, said DeVon, who wrote the bill, is that moved money would go toward teacher pay raises.

“It’s just goal-oriented,” DeVon said. “If you’re not able to meet the goal, then just post it on your website and say here’s where we’re at in our spending and why we’re spending it where we are.” 

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“We’d like to believe that all of our teachers are worth every penny of what they have,” DeVon said. “We’d love to pay them more. We want to leave it to local control.” 

State Sen. Mark Stoops, a Democrat from Bloomington, said, “Rather than provide additional funds, what they’re going is saying ‘OK, schools. Teachers want more pay. We want you to come up with it.'” 

State Rep. Melanie Wright, a Democrat from Yorktown, is a music teacher of students in kindergarten through Grade 6 at Daleville Community Schools.

 “I want to make sure we have a steady profession,” Wright said. “And they have the ability to do simple things like buy a simple home, pay school loans and be able to raise a family.”

“What do you do to, as you say, keep the lights on, keep everything paid and moving? What can you afford to give to teachers?” Wright asked. “The tricky part about that is so many years they’ve been given stipends, which don’t go toward their base pay, which doesn’t count toward their retirement.”