Listen Live

(INDIANAPOLIS) – House Republicans’ plan for raising teacher pay is getting some pushback — including from the Republican who oversees Indiana schools.

Republicans’ bill orders schools to make “every reasonable effort” to steer 85 cents of every dollar to the classroom. But superintendents say every school is different. Three of every five superintendents contacted by the Indiana Association of School Business Officials say they’d miss that benchmark. Marion Community Schools assistant superintendent Bob Schultz says schools have varying needs, from the condition of their buildings to the number of special-ed students they serve to the cost of gas for their buses. He says it doesn’t make sense to demand they all meet the same budget target, much less a number he charges is “picked out of the sky.”

And state superintendent Jennifer McCormick’s office says while teachers deserve a raise, limiting where money can be spent is the wrong way to do it. Legislative director Mike Brown notes non-classroom spending includes more than administrative costs. He says capping that spending would mean less money for school safety, buses and computers.

Republicans note the bill doesn’t require schools to the 85-percent mark — they just have to explain in writing and at a public school board meeting why they didn’t. Fishers Representative Todd Huston agrees there may be good reasons, but says the bill would promote transparency. Schultz says landing on what he calls “the naughty list” triggers a blizzard of reporting requirements to justify the budget.

Democrats on the House Education Committee voted against the bill. They say a suggested limit now could become an order later, and interfere with local control over school budgets.

The committee unanimously approved two other bills aimed at teacher pay: a teacher residency grant, and a “career ladder” program to let veteran teachers earn more by mentoring newer teachers. All three bills face a second committee review of their costs before going to the full House.

(Photo: Jetta Productions/Thinkstock)