Indiana school enrollment jumps; bill would spend millions to offset surge

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — More money could soon be going to your child’s education.

State Sen. Ryan Mishler, a Republican from Bremen, has authored a bill that would provide millions of dollars to offset a miscalculation of student population estimates.

Senate Bill 189 has passed the Senate Appropriations Committee, which Mishler chairs, by a vote of 12-0.

Mishler said thousands more students than expected came into Indiana schools this year, which he said actually means less money spent per student.

His bill would fix that gap.

Mishler said the legislature estimated and planned for around 5,000 new students to come into Indiana’s public schools this school year, but the state got roughly 2,200 more new students than they budgeted for.

“This is the first time we’ve ever underestimated. We usually overestimate,” said Mishler.

Indianapolis Public Schools got an extra 1,200 students this school year, while Fort Wayne Community Schools had an extra 116 new students, according to Mishler.

And Mishler said Vigo County Schools actually lost 80 students, while Evansville-Vanderburgh Schools saw 120 more students.

When asked where the extra students were coming from, Mishler said, “We’re not sure. It could be many new kindergarten students, you know?”

Mishler claims if no legislative action is taken, Indiana schools are in trouble: “Every school would see a reduction because we’d have less per student.”

“You’d still spend $7.1 billion and you add 2,200 students — it’s less per student.”

Mishler said if his bill is passed, it would give Indiana schools up to $25 million.

The Indiana Budget Agency would transfer the money from the state’s tuition reserve fund to the Department of Education for Indiana’s charter, traditional public, and choice program school, Mishler said.

“This bill backfills that. It takes the pupil amount back up,” he explained.

Mishler said he has come to him who’s against the proposal.

State Rep. Sally Siegrist, a Republican from West Lafayette, has a similar education funding bill, House Bill 1001 which would transfer up to $75 million to public schools through fiscal year 2019.

Click here to read State Sen. Ryan Mishler’s complete bill.

Click here to read State Rep. Sally Siegrist’s complete bill.