Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Local News

July 24, 2013

New mandates as another school year looms

— INDIANAPOLIS — Figuring out ways to cut down on gang violence may seem like work for the police, but this coming school year, teachers, students and administrators throughout in Indiana will be enlisted in the effort.

A new law requiring every school district develop policies and practices to deal with teenage gangs is among at least a dozen new education-related laws with long-term impact that went into effect earlier this month.

Those new laws range from changes in the school funding formula to temporary relief for some schools from the impact of the property tax caps. But also on the list are laws that require schools to implement tougher anti-bullying policies, do more to crack down on chronic absenteeism, and boost efforts to get more parents involved with their children’s education.

“Over the years, schools have taken on so many issues besides reading, writing, and arithmetic, that it’s become an ongoing expectation,” said Dennis Costerison, executive director of the Indiana Association of School Business Officials. “If something is going on in society, it’s going to be dealt with by the schools.”

Schools will have plenty to deal with in coming months, according to a new report by Indiana University’s Center for Evaluation and Education Policy, known as CEEP. The center identified the most impactful school-related legislation of the past session, with help from a diverse group of education leaders, including Costerison.

On the list is the biennial budget, which increased K-12 school funding overall by 2 percent in fiscal year 2014 and 1 percent in fiscal year 2015, for a total of about $6.7 billion. But about 40 percent of local school districts won’t see any increase in funding over the next two years and some will see a decline.

That’s because of the state’s school funding formula, adopted two years ago, eliminates the past supports for small school districts or districts with declining enrollments. The funding changes, being phased in over several years, are causing some schools to cut programs and personnel as they adjust to the new funding reality.

“For schools, the (state) budget bill is always first and foremost importance,” said Terry Spradlin, executive director of CEEP.

The importance seemed elevated this year, as the legislature moved to expand school vouchers for low-income families who want to send their children to private schools, using state support. Among other things, the new law waives the requirement that income-eligible students living in failing schools districts attend a public school for year before applying for a voucher, and it makes it easier for children with special needs and for the siblings of students already in the voucher program to get a voucher.

Paul DiPerna, with the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, hails the expanded voucher program and predicts it will lead to the improvement of public schools that will want compete for those students.

But Todd Bess, head of the Indiana Association of School Principals, sees “far-reaching implications” in how the program was expanded, by easing eligibility to cover more students without capping the final numbers. And Frank Bush, with the Indiana School Boards Association, also fears the expanded voucher program will cut into public school funding: “This is particularly troubling in a time when even more is expected of public school services.”

Some of the other laws passed by the legislature last session that will impact the state’s K-12 schools this coming school year:

• Senate Enrolled Act 1, known as the School Resource Officers and School Safety law, which establishes the “secured school fund” to help schools hire police officers, conduct threat assessments for school buildings, and purchase safety equipment and technology. Before the law was passed, legislators removed a controversial provision in the bll requiring at least one staff member be trained in using and carrying a weapon on school grounds.

• Senate Enrolled Act 338, which addresses the problem of chronic absenteeism in schools. It broadens the definition of “chronic absenteeism” and “habitual truant” to include more students that routinely don’t show up for school, and it requires the Department of Education to provide local schools with more resources and guidance to deal with students who don’t show up for class – even those with excused absences. A critical part of the bill also requires schools to report their absentee rates and for that information to be included in their annual performance reports which are public.

• Senate Enrolled Act 352, the “criminal gang” law that requires schools to start tracking criminal gang activity in their schools and report it to the state. The law is to be phased in over several years, with help from the state Department of Education. It includes, for example, a requirement that compels schools to train students, faculty and staff in how to recognize and report criminal gang activity. By 2017, the state DOE will be required to report to the governor the level of gang activity in the state’s K-12 schools.

• House Enrolled Act 1423, also known as the “anti-bullying” bill. Indiana already requires schools to have policies in place to discourage the bullying of vulnerable students, but this new law significantly strengthens those existing provisions. Among other things, it requires schools to establish procedures for reporting incidents of bullying and to adopt disciplinary rules around bullying, both in and out of school. The mother of an Indiana teenager who committed suicide after being bullied by classmates testified for the bill.

• Senate Enrolled Act 517, which permits some school corporations that are financially strapped because of property tax caps to transfer money from their general fund to the transportation fund or school bus replacement fund.

• House Enrolled Act 1427, which pushes the “pause” button on full implementation of the Common Core State Standards, a national set of academic standards adopted by Indiana in 2010 for its K-12 schools. The law requires the legislature to hold hearings this summer and fall on the impact of Common Core, including its fiscal impact on schools and the state. In stalling the Common Core standards, it also temporarily keeps in place the use of ISTEP as the state’s high-stakes standardized assessment test for students in elementary and middle schools.

Maureen Hayden can be reached at maureen.hayden@indianamediagroup.com

1
Text Only
Local News
  • South Ninth Street area under boil water order South Ninth Street, between East Jackson and Franklin streets in Goshen, is under a boil water order from noon until further notice.

    August 21, 2014

  • GN140821 Pike Street Project 2 INDOT meeting held to discuss Pike Street project GOSHEN — Major changes may be on the way for a small section of Pike Street in downtown Goshen.

    August 20, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0821 goshen college challenge Locals embrace ice bucket challenge It’s a challenge that has united participants with the shared sensation of an icy burst of water, sopping wet clothing and video evidence — all in the name of philanthropy.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140821 nisly complaint Complaint filed against state rep candidate Accusations of wrongdoing, in the form of a complaint to the Indiana Election Commission, have been levied against District 22 representative Republican nominee Curt Nisly.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140820 dometic groundbreaking Dometic breaks ground on significant expansion in Goshen GOSHEN — As Dometic officials gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony for the $7 million expansion of their Goshen distribution center Wednesday, the work was already underway in the background. “It’s happening right now,” said Dave Schutz, vice presi

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140821 Ignition art Plenty of good music on horizon at Ignition Several upcoming shows at Ignition Garage in Goshen were announced this week.

    August 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • City plan nearing a final draft GOSHEN — The city’s new comprehensive plan is nearing completion, and a near-final draft has now been released for public review. Goshen Plan Commission members released the draft of the city’s newly penned comprehensive plan, titled “Uncommonly Grea

    August 19, 2014

  • GN140820 Hakws building Hotel, brew pub plans progressing GOSHEN — Plans for a new boutique hotel and brew pub at the historic Hawks building in downtown Goshen continue to move ahead steadily.

    August 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • GN140820 nappanee awards 031.jpg Nappanee mayor honors 'Spirited' youth NAPPANEE — Two Elkhart County 4-H’ers were honored by their hometown mayor during Monday’s city council meeting. Receiving the Community Spirit Award and a key to the city were Lane Flowers and Sarah Stump. Mayor Larry Thompson recognized Flowers, a

    August 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • arlo.jpg SLIDESHOW: Pets of the Week Cats and dogs are looking for loving permanent homes at the Humane Society of Elkhart County.

    August 19, 2014 1 Photo

Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Poll

Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

I think it’s a good idea to feed all the students free of charge
I think those who can afford it should pay for their school meals
I think all students should be required to pay for their school meals
     View Results
AP Video
Raw: Grief After Deadly Airstrikes in Gaza Officer Who Pointed Gun at Protesters Suspended Kathy Griffin Challenges Minaj to 'a Booty Off' Johnson: Six Arrests, No Tear Gas in Ferguson Raw: Rescue, Relief Efforts at Japan Landslide Cadavers, a Teen, and a Medical School Dream Raw: Woman Escorted From Ferguson Protests California Drought Stings Honeybees, Beekeepers Officer Who Pointed Gun at Protesters Suspended Holder Hopes to Bring Calm to Ferguson US Mission to Rescue Hostages in Syria Failed Manfred, Torre and MLB Take Ice Bucket Challenge Bank of America Reaches Record $17B Settlement Holder Reassures Ferguson Community With Visit GlobalPost CEO Remembers Foley As a Brave Man