- Associated Press - Monday, December 12, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The Indianapolis Public Schools superintendent is calling for a re-evaluation of how the state pays for services for non-English-speaking students, saying schools with the highest populations are shortchanged.

Superintendent Lewis Ferebee told the Indianapolis Star (https://indy.st/2hvPpOG ) that the district, where nearly 15 percent of students are non-English speaking, is burdened with steep costs.

The district and other Central Indiana schools don’t benefit from the extra money the state made available in 2015 for English-language learners because one-fourth of a district’s students need to be English-language learners to qualify for those funds. Community Schools of Frankfort is the only school district in the state that is above that line.

Ferebee said his district receives about 20 percent of the money needed to support those students and fills in the 80 percent gap from general tuition dollars.

The other challenge the urban school district faces is the state omitting charter schools. An increasing amount of schools are partnering with outside companies in a bid to increase student achievement.

Carey Dahncke, head of schools for the Christel House Academy network, said there didn’t seem to be a specific reason why charter schools were left out. He estimated that 415 students from the Christel House charters, who learn English as a second language, missed out on $300,000.

“We have a lot of need,” Dahncke said. “We’re doing the best we can with what we have.”

However, Dahncke added, “It’s not enough.”

Sen. Ryan Mishler said lawmakers didn’t intend to widely expand the money schools receive for non-English speakers through the formula the state uses to pay schools. He said the additional funding for English-language learners was meant to make up for unexpected losses in funding for low-income students at a handful of schools after experiencing a change to the funding formula.

It’s unclear if state lawmakers will address the concerns when writing a new two-year state budget in the upcoming legislative session, which begins in January.

However, Sen. Luke Kenley, said lawmakers will examine the formula during the session.

“The objective is to provide the fairest formula we can for all schools,” Kenley said.

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Information from: The Indianapolis Star, https://www.indystar.com


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