Contact: Jane Jankowski
Phone: 317/232-1622

For Immediate Release: Dec 28, 2005
Daniels, Reed introduce proposals to give schools more flexibility, allocate more resources to student instruction

INDIANAPOLIS (December 28, 2005) -- Governor Mitch Daniels and Superintendent of Public Instruction Suellen Reed today outlined proposals that would help reduce overhead, increase flexibility and allocate more taxpayer dollars to classrooms.

The plans would give Indiana school corporations clearer authority to make effective spending decisions, which would help free dollars for better use in classrooms. In addition, the plans would improve financial systems, so reporting on spending in school districts is clearer, and reduce regulation so schools have more flexibility to be innovative and have more freedom to focus on instruction and learning.

Reed and Daniels were joined at the announcement by State Senator Teresa Lubbers, chair of the Senate Education and Career Development Committee; State Representative Robert Behning, chair of the House Education Committee; Dan Clark of the Indiana State Teachers Association; Dennis Costerison of the Indiana Association of School Business Officers; Frank Bush of the Indiana School Boards Association; John Ellis of the Indiana Association of Public School Superintendents; David Holt of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce; and multiple leaders of the state’s education service centers.

Savings could be allocated to additional classroom teachers, to purchase computers, to reduce or eliminate costs of textbooks, to provide for full day kindergarten, or other similar instructional purposes. Even a one percent savings in spending would add $100 million to schools’ instructional budgets, the governor said.

“No administrator I know wants to spend a dollar on overhead that could otherwise help hire a new teacher or give youngsters more classroom opportunities. We need to remove roadblocks and give teachers and administrators the flexibility they need to put learning first,” said Daniels. “This is about putting resources where they matter most, where teachers meet students.”

Proposals would enhance the options available to schools to help them achieve greater efficiencies or savings in their non-instructional budgets as well as to strengthen the roles of the regional Education Service Centers (ESCs) to purchase a variety of products and services on behalf of participating school districts, including energy, textbooks, insurance products (liability, property/casualty, etc.), school buses and other vehicles, food services, facilities maintenance, and other supplies and services.

School districts would also be given more freedom to enter into shared services agreements, so that administrators responsible for such functions as transportation, facilities management, human resources, and information technology could perform them for multiple districts. Schools also would have more clarity to consider other forms of collaboration, cooperation or consolidation where appropriate, under the plan.

“Our schools are working hard to be innovative and meet the needs of an ever-changing student population, but they need more flexibility in order to better serve our students with the challenges, needs and demands of the future in mind,” said Dr. Reed. “This plan will enable us to do everything in our power to ensure that our students graduate from high school equipped to meet the demands of postsecondary education and the workforce and to take their places in this global economy.”

States such as Texas, Missouri and Arizona have recently passed or proposed legislation to require or encourage schools to spend more of their funds on classroom instruction, some using 65 percent of operations spending as a target for instructional spending. Daniels and Reed have not proposed a specific goal. The governor and superintendent said they prefer to empower Hoosier schools to take the actions, work to develop definitions that make sense in Indiana and expectations that follow them, and then recognize progress and provide technical assistance for districts that struggle to put more resources to student learning.

“Right now, our schools buy their own energy and pay higher prices. Our education service centers report that less than 10 percent of purchases by Indiana schools is done on a consolidated basis. That doesn’t make much sense, especially at a time when budgets are under pressure and tax revenues are stretched,” said the governor.