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Local school superintendent shares concerns about the state’s proposed funding formula

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Democratic State Rep. Sheila Klinker said the state’s proposed funding formula for public schools is flawed.

“That’s ridiculous with the efforts that are made in West Lafayette as well as all of our other school corporations,” Klinker said.

West Lafayette Community School Corporation Superintendent Rocky Killion agrees. He says, based on the proposed formula, it’s unlikely they’ll get the full increase in funding.

“In order for us to get this 10% increase, we have to grow by 172 students in enrollment this year,” Killion explained.

He said it’s an unrealistic goal.

“Since I’ve been here, we’ve never grown by 172 students,” said Killion. “We’re a small school district, landlocked boundaries.”

Each year, legislators put together a formula showing what schools can expect to see the next year. The numbers are based on funding per student using average daily membership and attendance.

According to Killion, WLCSC is currently the third lowest supported district in the state when it comes to per-student funding.

Even if they don’t get the full 10% increase, they get a slight increase regardless of enrollment. Right now, West Lafayette is set to go up by about $147 per student between the 2021 and 2022 school year.

“That is a very small increase per student even though our costs are much higher,” Killion added.

The corporation is currently using referendum funding to pay for any additional costs not covered by the state. It expires December 31, 2024.

“If we ever, at some point, lost the referendum, we’re looking at major cuts and probably class sizes in the 30’s to low 40’s at the elementary and intermediate schools,” he said.

Currently, the average class size is about 21 students.

Killion hopes legislators make some changes, and those include the one-third of the state’s education funding boost going to the voucher program.

He said that’s a lot of money for a system that serves about 10% of Indiana students.

“We should be putting our resources into where 90% of the students are enrolled,” Killion said.

Klinker said enrollment increases shouldn’t be the only factor when in comes to increasing funding.

“In school learning, e-learning, that’s a lot of work,” Klinker said. “Base it on the work that’s being done.”

Right now, the funding formula is in the Senate.

Republican State Sen. Ron Alting said he wants to see changes made that would increase funding overall for public schools.

News 18 reached out to several legislators who support the current formula, our calls and emails were not returned.

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