Indiana’s relatively low teacher pay compared to other states has dominated debate at the Statehouse over the last few years.  The state of Indiana 2020-2021 budget will provide 50% of its revenue to K-12 education (see fig 1 below).  The struggle has been getting that money into the hands of teachers.

An August 2019  report from the Indiana Fiscal Policy Institute provides that in 2018, Indiana school districts dedicated less than half their total personnel budgets to classroom teacher compensation; 53 cents of every payroll dollar went to non-teachers (or teachers serving in non-instructional roles).

  • In 2018, Indiana public school corporations spent nearly $5.46 billion on total staff salaries/benefits;
  • This reflects 80% of the state’s tuition support appropriation ($6.9 billion), which funds most operating and instructional costs;
  • Analysis of 2018 school district data by the IBRC finds $2.57 billion spent on full-time classroom teacher compensation;
  • Indiana public school corporations dedicate 47% of their total labor costs to full-time teachers, while public charters spend roughly 57% of total compensation on teachers.

What’s the appropriate role for the state?  Teacher compensation is set by individual school corporations through local collective bargaining agreements; should the state take a more active role in setting salary schedules or earmarking aid for pay increases? Or should the control be left on a local level?

I am not and have never been in favor of increased bureaucracy and the burden it places on business, education or healthcare.  While the 2020-21 budget includes significant increases to K-12 education funding, Indiana is still pursuing longer-term strategy for translating state support into competitive salaries.    Education and political leaders have to come together to agree on a coherent vision, a long term plan,  for improving school funding.

To learn more about issues such as standardized testing and charter schools please  watch the video above.


Figure 1