A push for more education funding

PARKE COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) – In rural Parke County, the fairgrounds is often the place to be and this morning was no different.

Residents packed inside the 4-H center to voice their concerns to the lawmakers that represent their hometown.

The first legislative session may have ended this week, but concerns about education are far from over.

“It is a huge, huge problem and it feels like it keeps getting overlooked every single year,” said Brandi Vandibier, North Central Parke School Board member.

For Vandibier, she worries where education dollars are actually spent.

“The problem is, the way those resources are allocated, we are getting less and less,” said Vandibier.

She shared her experience about voucher programs taking dollars away from public schools in Parke County. This has created long-term impacts such as teacher shortages.

“If we close our doors we have nowhere for our students to go and that’s huge,” said Vandibier.

The proposed budget is increasing education funds around 1.1%, which Vandibier argues isn’t enough.

But lawmakers like Representative Jim Baird highlight the fact that more than half of the state’s $17 billion budget is spent on schools.

“But 52% of your budget goes into education, just K – 12,” said Baird. “52% of your state budget.”

Senator Phil Boots argues that schools across the state are declining in enrollment so that leads to less money.

This hits smaller schools like the ones in Parke County with an even tighter budget.

So Vandibier is pushing her lawmakers for change.

“Hearing the stories about what that actually means in the classroom and what means for schools, I hope gives them a perspective to think about where we’re headed,” said Vandibier.

Lawmakers will vote on the state’s education budget at the end of April.