TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) -- From 2002 to 2017 Indiana was dead last in teacher salary growth when compared to other states.
State representatives across Indiana are banding together to bring awareness to this growing issue. State leaders met on Indiana State University's campus on Tuesday. They talked about ways funding for schools could be changed.
This isn't just a Vigo county school issue or a Wabash Valley issue. It's an issue for almost all schools around the state of Indiana and now state reps are trying to help.
"Education is a calling and you really shouldn't have to do two jobs to do just the one you love," Tonya Pfaff, State Representative for Terre Haute said.
Low teacher pay plus, Low state and local funding plus, Low recruitment, equals a serious issue in Indiana public schools.
"One of the many problems in education right now is that young people are not coming into our profession," Pfaff said. "I was talking to a first-year teacher today and we were talking about salary. She gave the example she said look I make $35,000 a year to be a teacher and I have a $400 a month student loan payment."
That situation is a reality for a lot of teachers right now. That's why state representative Ed Delaney of the 86th district is traveling across Indiana to get an idea of what schools are dealing with.
He said situations like what Vigo County Schools are going through isn't all that uncommon
"I'd let your superintendent know they're not alone. That this isn't their fault. They didn't wake up and lose the money. The system is geared against districts that aren't particularly wealthy, which have a shrinking population, which you do," Delaney said. "The system is geared against them. It's not their fault, but they have to deal with it."
Delaney said he has 4 things in mind to bring to the general assembly. First, he wants the state to require a statewide minimum starting salary of $40,000 for each teacher that the state would pay for. Second, he proposed an adjustment of funding for the poverty level in districts. Third, for the state to take over counseling. That way, schools wouldn't have to pay for special counseling or extra security measures. Last, he proposes to freeze, not raise, corporate taxes. He says even just freezing them would allow for a surplus of money for public schools.
Unfortunately, he said things like this won't be voted on until 2021.
"We don't have two years to address a crisis. We can't find teachers now," Pfaff said.
They said if nothing gets done and nothing changes public schools will start to deteriorate.
Tonight they showed us how Vigo County compares with schools around the state.
They showed us how much these districts received per student in local and state funding for the fiscal year 2018.
The Carmel clay school district receives $4,224 in local support funding.
Clay community gets $2,521 and Shakamak gets $2,098 in local support funding.
But Vigo county gets only $1,943 in local support funding.
When it comes to state funding.
Caramel gets $6,070, Clay gets $6,926, Shakamak gets $7,011 and Vigo County gets $7,258.
Add all of that together and Vigo, Clay Community and Shakamak schools each get about $1,000 total less funding than schools like Carmel. Showing a real disparity when it comes to funding schools.
If you want to help you can call your state representative and voice your opinion. Delaney said you can also be at the statehouse during the general assembly.
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