In wake of Bray’s letter, Campbell comments on state funding of public schools during COVID-19 pandemic

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INDIANAPOLIS – State Representative Chris Campbell (D-West Lafayette) today released a statement on state funding of public schools during the COVID-19 pandemic after Indiana President Pro Tempore Rodric Bray sent a letter to school corporations last week threatening cuts to school funding.

Bray's letter warned school leaders that current budget laws would be upheld, and districts not offering in-person instruction amid the COVID-19 pandemic would have funding cut by 15 percent. Previously, Governor Eric Holcomb committed that K-12 schools would not face such cuts. Holcomb reaffirmed his position last Friday after the Bray letter.

“School leaders and teachers have been carrying the burden of creating safe, productive learning environments in the era of COVID-19,” Campbell said. “While they are busy trying to keep children and their respective communities safe, leaders like Senator Bray are trying to take their vital funding away.

“There seems to be a misconception that schools require less operation money when classes are not hosted in traditional brick-and-mortar buildings. Most public school professionals in the state would assure you this was not the case.

“The two unilateral challenges of ensuring all students can equitably participate in learning opportunities while preparing for an eventual physical reopening is even more costly than previous operations standards in some school districts. Schools now require money for essential initiatives like purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff and students; launching new or improved online learning platforms by hiring additional teachers or adding a virtual component to public schools; providing meals for low-income families and even ensuring students have access to devices or internet while e-learning.

“This letter was supposedly intended to provide clarity for budgeting in the fall, but it did the exact opposite. Last week's rollercoaster of events sent school districts on a wild goose chase for answers and left some school leaders planning for the worst. The Indiana State Teacher's Association said it best: 'The law Bray references wasn’t intended for traditional public schools offering remote instruction temporarily during a pandemic – and he knows it.'

“It would be a shame to see state leadership fail our schools.

“In the coming weeks, I will be remaining vigilant to ensure that schools are fully funded.”

Read the statement from Indiana House Democrats here:

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