Penn-Harris-Madison Superintendent Jerry Thacker reads from a declaration supporting increased public school funding at an event Tuesday night in Warsaw. Staff photo by Carley Lanich
Penn-Harris-Madison Superintendent Jerry Thacker reads from a declaration supporting increased public school funding at an event Tuesday night in Warsaw. Staff photo by Carley Lanich
WARSAW — School superintendents, mayors and business leaders from across four northern Indiana counties came together Tuesday night in opposition to legislative efforts to expand Indiana’s school choice programs and to encourage discussion of greater funding for public education.

The group of local leaders and educators — including representatives from South Bend, Mishawaka and Penn-Harris-Madison districts — met at Warsaw High School to hear from Ball State economist Michael Hicks, whose recent columns published in The Star Press in Muncie describe school funding as the state’s biggest economic challenge.

Business owners, educators and local officials then one by one took the stage at Warsaw’s Performing Arts Center to explain why leaders in their industry oppose three bills that seek to expand Indiana School Choice Scholarships and create a new Education Savings Account program that would give money directly to families regardless of which school their student attends.

The legislation comes just weeks after a state commission convened to explore Indiana’s growing teacher shortage found that Indiana ranks last among its neighboring states for average teacher salary and suggested annual investments of more than $600 million would be needed to make up the difference.

Educators were initially optimistic with the release of Gov. Eric Holcomb’s proposed budget in January which, despite the pandemic, called for an additional $377 million in K-12 spending over the next two years.
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