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Indiana lawmakers move forward with bill to share school referendum funds with charters

By Jeanie Lindsay, IPB News | Published on in Economy, Education, Government, Politics
A legal analysis of the bill says if it had been law in 2021, more than $24 million would have gone to charter schools out of more than $400 million in referendum funding for schools across the state. (Justin Hicks/IPB News)

School districts would be required to share future referendum funding with charter schools under a bill approved by a House committee Thursday.

Supporters say it will help close funding gaps for charters, but critics worry it could stifle future referendum attempts.

House Bill 1072 would apply only to operating or school safety referendums passed after June 2022. Basically, if a student lives within a school district’s boundary but goes to a charter school, the district has to send part of its referendum funding to the charter that enrolls that student.

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Charter school leaders, including Catherine Diersing from Bloomington, said it will help them compete with districts’ teacher pay, enabling them to recruit and retain more teachers.

“Traditional public school districts have simply outpaced small public charter schools especially in terms of what we can afford to pay,” she said.

But people representing traditional public schools, administrators and teachers unions said they oppose the bill. Many voiced concerns that it could confuse voters or sway some to vote against a referendum. They also said the bill doesn’t come with enough accountability for taxpayers.

The House Ways and Means Committee approved the bill after making some changes to it following public testimony. The bill now heads to the House floor.

Contact reporter Jeanie at jlindsa@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @jeanjeanielindz.