No surprises in the Indiana schools chief’s budget proposal. In fact, she’s right in line with Gov. Holcomb

State Superintendent Jennifer McCormick presented a budget proposal to House lawmakers Thursday morning, but she made no specific requests for education funding beyond what Gov. Eric Holcomb proposed early last month.

For the Indiana Department of Education’s next two-year budget, McCormick suggested a sum of about $7 billion per year to support students, grants for teachers, school technology, safety and more. But the numbers within the proposal are no higher than in Holcomb’s budget, where he proposed sending an additional $280 million to Indiana schools, a 3 percent increase.

McCormick did say during her presentation that she would like to see more money go toward what’s already provided to schools for students’ educations, and paying for students to take Advanced Placement tests and college entrance exams, but she didn’t name what she’d like those amounts to be.

“We recognize the challenges in the budget forecast, and are not asking for different numbers, only for increases, if possible, in those areas she specified during her testimony,” said education department spokeswoman Molly Deuberry.

Since McCormick, a political newcomer, was elected Indiana’s schools chief in November, there have been questions from education officials, advocates and lawmakers about how she’ll run the department and work alongside Indiana’s Republican majority, whose education policy views haven’t always aligned with her own.

So far, there have been next to no fireworks between McCormick and Republican lawmakers, and if this budget proposal is any indication, there could be more smooth sailing ahead.

McCormick has yet to detail her legislative priorities, but has offered support so far to several education bills moving through the legislature this session.

During her campaign, McCormick was vocal about making changes to the school funding formula, particularly to the parts of it that determine extra aid for schools who have students from low-income families. She didn’t address this at the budget hearing.

McCormick’s budget proposal also included:

  • About $7 billion per year, a slight increase over prior years
  • $10.5 million per year for English-learners, no change from previous years.
  • $40 million per year for teacher performance bonuses, the same as was spent in 2017
  • $26.3 million per year for testing, the same proposed for 2017
  • $39 million per year for school textbooks, no change from previous years
  • $3 million per year to assist struggling schools, no change from previous years