Indiana push to change property taxes would benefit charter schools

Victory College Prep, a charter school that opened in Indianapolis in 2005, received a seven-year charter renewal from the Mayor’s Office of Education Innovation in 2018. The Urban League of Indianapolis has recognized Victory College Prep as a School of Excellence.

Editor’s note: This article appeared last week on

Republican lawmakers are advancing major changes to the state’s school funding system to benefit charter schools and districts with relatively low property tax values.

The proposed Republican House budget, along with a newly amended GOP Senate bill, would rework Indiana’s property tax system to pump more funding into charters and level what lawmakers say is an unfair playing field for charters and traditional public schools. Lawmakers also might create a dedicated funding stream for charters’ capital expenses that would replace the so-called “$1 law.”

But the proposals have been sharply criticized by Democrats and traditional public school leaders, who argued that the changes would come at the expense of thousands of students in traditional public schools.

The bills channel issues at the heart of a recent dispute over tax revenue in Indianapolis Public Schools. The district withdrew its plan to ask voters for new property taxes on the May ballot, amid criticism from charter school supporters that the draft ballot measure did not provide charters enough money. If the proposals become law, they could change the long-term balance of fiscal power within the state’s public education system.

Together, House Bill 1001 and Senate Bill 391 would do the following to boost funding for charters and school districts with low property values:

  • Provide $1,400 per charter school student from the state in fiscal year 2024 and $1,500 in fiscal year 2025, replacing a state program that provides $1,250 per student to compensate for a lack of property tax revenue.

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BY Special to NextSteps