Educating the students in the 39 urban districts around the state is the top priority of IUSA. The goal of the organization is to ensure the fair and equitable treatment of all students. The future of our great state is dependent upon the success of our students.
It is extremely important that the organization remain focused on the priorities that will have the most impact on IUSA’s unique districts and student population. We recommend the following legislative priorities for the 2016 legislative session:
- School Accountability: IUSA supports school accountability. However, the data from testing must be reliable and the results must be fairly applied to ALL schools. Due to the unreliable scores from the ISTEP exam, it is the recommendation of IUSA that ALL schools be held harmless from the unreliable data for at least two years. These unreliable results should not impact our school, students, or teachers as IDOE and the legislature determine solutions to the problems that occurred with this exam.
- Teacher Recruitment/Retentions: This issue has been promoted all over the state and is not unique to urban schools, but is one that impacts urbans schools at a high rate. IUSA supports initiatives that will allow urban districts to attract and keep talented educators for their students. Employing the best teachers will allow for optimal results in the classroom.
- School Funding: Though 2016 is not a budget year, it is still a time to reflect and determine the true impact of the new school funding formula. IUSA membership should be studying how direct certification has impacted their complexity funding and be prepared to make recommendations when sitting with legislators. Some areas may need to continue to also look at enrollment losses and solutions for student losses that do not warrant teacher layoffs.
- Growth Model: IUSA needs to take an active role in looking at what is coming out of the Indiana State Board of Education. They are currently working on redeveloping the growth model. IUSA needs to be at the table as these discussions will have great impact on district students.
- Local Funding: IUSA should stay very engaged as it relates to legislation impacting local funding including the protected taxes waiver, reliable property tax assessments, and changes to capital project funds being used for utilities and insurance. These funding mechanisms can have a huge impact on member districts.
In the future, determining a clear legislative priority list should be a process that is developed during the summer months when members have time to devote to determining actual impact. This will allow time to meet with legislators and spread the IUSA message prior to the legislative session.