Knox Schools Await Potential Education Funding Reforms

The Indiana General Assembly is anticipated to consider certain reforms to funding education, and Knox Community Schools is considering their options.

Governor Mike Pence has said he wants the legislative session that started Tuesday to be an “education session.” Discussions have included lifting the cap on education vouchers and reforming the school funding formula.

Knox Community Schools, like other schools, has been affected. Methods to save such as cutting supplies and leaving positions open through attrition have been found. Knox Superintendent A.J. Gappa says any changes in funding will be taken on a case by case basis.

“So as we go forward since most of the General Fund is committed to salaries, and benefits, and payroll, that’s the most likely place that cuts would have to be made so we may have to look to cut back on staff,” says Gappa.

If the proposed changes to vouchers and funding formulas are signed into law, state funding may affect Knox schools.

Even so, current methods are viewed by 16th District State Representative Doug Gutwein as being unfair to districts considered to be performing well.

“It’s kind of turned into: the more students you have signing up for free-and-reduced lunch, the more you get per student and I’m not sure I necessarily agree with that,” says Gutwein.

Knox could see reduced funding, primarily through decreasing student enrollment and other factors related to test performance and socioeconomic status. Gappa says that removing the cap on vouchers could affect every school district in the state.

“If they unleash the caps on vouchers for private schools and for private schools, and they take more money into that realm, then there’s less there for the public schools,”

No charter schools exist in Starke County.

Parents and students may not notice drastic changes in the operation Knox Community Schools with the proposed reforms. Gappa recommends that steps be taken to maintain the identity of schools.