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Average Indiana classroom receives $234K in funding

WRTV Investigates breaks down how schools get their money
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Posted at 11:16 AM, Aug 23, 2023

INDIANAPOLIS — School is back in session for Indiana students, which means shucking out lots of money on back-to-school supplies and clothes for many parents.

But even if you don't have kids in the system, you're still helping to pay for schools with your tax dollars.

Public school districts receive local property taxes, which bring in roughly $3.6 billion a year for schools, but K-12 education gets most of their funding from state dollars.

These are the main ways you pay:

  • Sales tax (when you buy something)
  • Income tax (it comes out of your paycheck)
  • Property taxes (you pay twice a year)

Schools will receive $18 billion in state funding, nearly half of the state’s budget, for the next two years—from July 1, 2023 to June 30, 2025.
Schools receive about $8,100 per student, and more students attending a school means more money.

Schools also receive more funding for students living in poverty, children with disabilities, and students who are learning English.

A new law says schools have to spend 62 percent of state dollars on teacher compensation.

WRTV Investigates Kara Kenney headed to the statehouse to talk to longtime lawmaker, Democrat Ed Delaney, who explained school leaders have a lot of leeway in deciding where the money goes.

“They have quite a bit of discretion. The money goes to the Central Office, not to the individual students,” said Delaney. “The money doesn't go in a backpack in a kids’ back. The school board and the superintendent have to decide how to deploy that money. "

On average, a classroom with 20 students receives $234,343 in combined state, local, and federal government financial support.

Some school districts may want more money to pay teachers or to build a new school.

Schools can ask taxpayers to vote for a referendum, and if voters approve, schools can collect more property tax money to pay for their expenses.

A new law just took effect which allows charter schools in Marion, Lake, St. Joseph and Vanderburgh Counties to receive a portion of referendum dollars as well.

Indiana House Republicans and Indiana House Democrats both helped WRTV compile the data used in this story.