Report from Indiana University center examines state education funding

  • Feb. 9, 2017


BLOOMINGTON -- A new report from an Indiana University center will help guide Indiana legislators as they develop a two-year budget that includes funding for public schools. The Center for Evaluation and Education Policy reviewed changes to Indiana school finances and enrollment in the study, as well as examining funding equity between school corporations.

The report, prepared for the Indiana State Board of Education, noted four key findings:

  • Enrollment is projected to decline modestly in the state's public schools in 2017, compared to 2009, with larger declines in traditional public schools than in charter schools.
  • The state's public school corporations experienced substantial changes in state funding between 2009 and 2017.
  • State funding for school operations is projected to increase through July 2017; however, the increases, when adjusted for inflation, are not sufficient to fully restore funding to pre-2009 levels.
  • The current funding-formula policy improved equity throughout the study period. Projections indicate that high levels of equity will be achieved in 2017. Equity in funding looks at whether school corporations serving similar types of students (in terms of student income) receive similar funding.

CEEP research associate Thomas Sugimoto is the lead author of the study. He says he was surprised by how much changes in state enrollment and funding varied across the state, and these average changes don’t provide a complete picture of the experiences for many school corporations.

“Looking at traditional school corporation enrollment, some lost nearly half their enrollment between 2009 and 2017, while others increased by more than 30 percent,” he said.

Changes to the state funding formula improved equity since 2009, although funding increases since 2012 have been relatively smaller for school corporations serving the most low-income students. While many school corporations are seeing less total state revenue, they’re also seeing more funding per student. Hypothetically, a shrinking district may be able to reduce the number of teachers without increasing class sizes.

Sugimoto hopes the Indiana General Assembly will find the report useful if it considers changes to the school funding formula.

“Ideally the school funding formula will also be informed by gaps in student outcomes, such as student achievement and graduation rates," he said. "An adequacy study may also be warranted to determine if the state provides sufficient resources to school corporations to provide an adequate education for all students.”

CEEP has developed an online data visualization site to highlight the findings from the equity analysis report. The report and visualization describe changes to Indiana school funding (distributed through tuition support), the effects of changes on equity, and enrollment between 2009 and 2017. Visitors may use the data visualization site to explore state trends as well as view details about specific school corporations (districts).

About Center for Evaluation and Education Policy

One of the country's leading nonpartisan program evaluation and education policy research centers, the Center for Evaluation and Education Policy promotes and supports rigorous evaluation and research primarily, but not exclusively, for educational, human services and nonprofit organizations and agencies. Center projects address state, national and international education questions. CEEP is part of the Indiana University School of Education.

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