Make your home page

Bill to divert tax revenue to charter schools clears Indiana House

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Supporters of traditional public schools on Monday said new charter school legislation could jeopardize future school funding ballot questions.

The Indiana House voted along party lines to approve legislation that would require school corporations in Marion, Lake, Vanderburgh, and St. Joseph counties to allocate a portion of the revenue from any tax levy adopted after May 10 to charter schools in those counties. It marks a major departure in charter school funding from current policy, which uses a grant-based model.

Bill sponsor Rep. Bob Behning, R-Indianapolis, who chairs the House Education Committee, said the measure is about fairness.

He says charter schools receive about $7,000 less per pupil, on average, than traditional public schools. The state budget bill, as proposed by the Senate, incorporates funding to make property tax revenue for charter schools a reality.

“(It’s) an effort to create some level of parity between these two types of public schools,” Behring said.

Backers of traditional public schools say the funding provision will raise serious doubts in voters’ minds since charter schools lack elected school boards.

Rep. Renee Pack, D-Indianapolis, says the superintendent of Speedway’s school system told her he fears the bill could jeopardize a measure on next month’s ballot. She says the bill would open up money to charter schools they have done nothing to earn.

“Not one charter school representative has ever showed up at a meeting. I’ve never gone door to door and met up with any charter school educators,” she said. “Yet they want a piece of that money. And I think it’s wrong.”

The bill already passed the Senate, but has to go back to that chamber due to changes the House made.

Earlier coverage