INDIANAPOLIS—On Wednesday, the Indiana State Board of Education voted to alter the definition of “virtual school” for the impending fall enrollment count, in order to ensure that public schools do not receive funding cuts for operating virtually due to COVID-19. Although Republican leadership originally promised that schools would see no funding cuts this year, a letter was sent by President Pro Temp Rodric Bray to schools last month threatening cuts to any school that failed to meet for in-person lessons this year.
In response to concerns over funding cuts, Governor Holcomb recommended that the fall student count be pushed to December—a move that would merely have delayed addressing the problem. The Indiana State Board’s decision will guarantee that schools will receive full funding for the next six months, at least. State Senator Eddie Melton (D-Gary) who serves as the ranking minority leader on the Senate Education Committee released the following statement in response to the State board’s decision:
“This was a very wise and timely decision that the State Board of Education has made. I’m sure that these changes will bring ease to the minds of our schools across the entire state of Indiana. However, it is incumbent upon us as legislators to provide a long-term solution once we return back to session in 2021, as the decision by the State Board does not fix the funding issue for the spring semester and moving forward.
“I appreciate all of the hard work from the advocates that reached out to state leaders expressing their concerns after receiving the letter about potential school funding cuts. It was a great source of worry for our public schools—the majority of which are already stretched thin and cannot afford to lose funding due to students not returning back physically to the classroom because of COVID-19. I am very relieved, as are our public schools, I’m sure, with the decision that has been made, and I will be filing a bill next session to ensure our schools are protected and not stripped of vital funding.”