Indiana schools serving students learning English are getting another budget boost this year.
The state budget, passed last week and awaiting the governor’s final approval, sets aside about $32 million for English-language learners, up from about $20 million in 2015. That will give schools $250 for each English-learner student in 2018 and $300 for each student in 2019 — up from $200 — along with even more funding for schools with higher concentrations. Charter schools will also be included for the first time.
The funding comes as districts across the state continue to see their number of English-learners grow. As Chalkbeat chronicled in our award-winning series, Lost in Translation, two-thirds of Indiana schools have seen an increase in the share of students learning English since 2006. And in Indianapolis, the number of English-learners attending Marion County public school districts has almost tripled since 2001.
For Indianapolis Public Schools, the impact will be significant. Superintendent Lewis Ferebee said the new formula for districts with higher concentrations of English-learners would bring in a little more than $5 million in new state money over the next two years.
Jessica Feeser, who oversees IPS’ programs for English-language learners, said the additional money might go toward adding teaching and staff positions at the newcomer program, a school that serves students who are new to the country and learning English.
“The best news about this is not just the money itself, but the message that it sends to our students and their families,” Feeser said. “That they are extremely important to our lawmakers and to the citizens of Indiana, and that we’re ready to invest in them.”
Under the new budget, all schools would get the $250 or $300 grant for each English-learner. But schools with higher concentrations of students learning a new language would get additional, much larger per-student grants.
For districts and charter schools with between 5 percent and 18 percent English-learners, the state would give an extra $975 in 2018 and $1,037 in 2019 for each student above the 5 percent threshold. For districts and charter schools with more than 18 percent English-learners, the state would dole out an extra $1,225 in 2018 and $1,287 in 2019 for each student above the 5 percent threshold.
This differs from the formula created in 2015, which only gave extra grant money to public school districts with English-learner populations above 25 percent. Charter schools were excluded. At the time, only two districts qualified — Goshen Community Schools and West Noble schools, both in Northeast Indiana.
Here’s how the English-learner population breaks down in Marion County districts:
- Perry Township: 3,314 students, making up 20.5 percent of the district
- Indianapolis Public Schools: 4,145 students, 14.4 percent of the district
- Pike Township: 1,579 students, 13.9 percent of the district
- Wayne Township: 2,029 students, 12.6 percent of the district
- Washington Township: 1,431 students, 12.5 percent of the district
- Lawrence Township: 1,792 students, 11.2 percent of the district
- Speedway Schools: 191 students, 10.6 percent of the district
- Warren Township: 853 students, 6.9 percent of the district
- Decatur Township: 293 students, 4.5 percent of the district
- Franklin Township: 271 students, 3 percent of the district
- Beech Grove Schools: 70 students, 2.3 percent of the district