Education Group: State Needs More Revenue to Fully Fund Teacher Raises

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Education Group: State Needs More Revenue to Fully Fund Teacher Raises

Teacher pay commission holds first public input session at Ivy Tech in Indy

(INDIANAPOLIS) - Monday night is your first chance to tell decision-makers what Indiana should do about teacher pay.

On average, teacher salaries in Indiana are the 15th-lowest in the nation. Governor Holcomb appointed a 14-member commission to explore ways to change that -- its first public hearing is at Ivy Tech in Indianapolis. The commission will also hear from the public Saturday in Evansville and next week in Elkhart.

Justin Ohlemiller with the education group Stand for Children says it'll take a tax hike or some other way to generate more money to work with. The group released a study calculating it would cost $658 million to bring Indiana salaries up to the median of Indiana's neighboring states. Ohlemiller says the median shouldn't necessarily be the target, but he says it shows the scope of the problem.

Stand for Children has urged two other steps to keep qualified teachers in Indiana: a teacher residency program, and "career ladders" allowing teachers to earn more by moving up the ranks within their school districts and taking on additional responsibility. Legislators established both those programs this year, but Ohlemiller says they need more funding than the four-and-a-half-million dollars budgeted for the programs.

Legislators also sought to free up money for teachers by picking up the cost of local pension liabilities. And they voted to encourage schools to direct most of their spending to the classroom, or deliver a written explanation of why they didn't.

Holcomb has said he wants a long-term solution he can present to legislators at their next budget session in two years.

(Photo: Jetta Productions/Thinkstock)

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