Insights

Smart Schools Roundtable: May Session Indiana

By Sarah Hemmersbach

For the May session of Fanning Howey’s Smart Schools Roundtable, we heard from two separate speakers for Indiana and Ohio. For Indiana, Barnes and Thornburg Partner Jeff Qualkinbush returned to discuss the Indiana legislative session and how it will impact Indiana public education.

 

2021 Legislative Impacts on Education

The following items for Indiana public education institutions were reviewed and approved during the most recent legislative session:

  • School Board Meeting Attendance and Participation
    • Policies were updated for voting and online participation. At least 50% of board members are required to be in person and all voting members must be seen and heard if attending remotely. Remote participation is limited by several other restrictions.
  • Vacant or Unused School Buildings
    • The new processes do not apply if the school building is being vacated in order to renovate for future use or being demolished for a new school building.
    • New policies will require school corporations to maintain the property until sold and must obtain a certification from the Attorney General prior to any sale.
  • Bond Sales and Appropriation Processes
    • As of July 1, 2021, until June 30, 2023, any school corporation may sell its general obligation bonds by either a public sale or a negotiated sale.
    • How the proceeds are used must be included in the budget and approved by the school board.
  • Budget Matters
    • Effective with the 2022 Budget process, a school corporation must submit an operating
      referendum/school safety referendum/capital projects referendum report on the DLGF Gateway at least 10 days before the budget hearing.
    • The submission must also include the purposes specified in the public question or the revenue spending plan, identify the fund into which the annual tax levies are deposited and provide information regarding the use of the money deposited into such fund.
  • Operating/School Safety Referenda
    • In connection with any operating/school safety referendum approved by a School Board after June 30, 2021, the approval must include a revenue spending plan filed with the DLGF.
    • The public question has significant changes including, the replacement of a cap on the tax rate with language regarding an increase in the average property taxes to be
      paid for residential and commercial property, and in certain cases, the year of the most recent property tax referendum proposed by the school corporation and whether it passed or failed. This applies to capital projects as well.
  • Capital Project Referenda
    • Effective as of July 1, 2021, the preliminary determination resolution must include the maximum annual debt service to be paid and a schedule of the estimated annual debt service fund tax levy and rate over the first 10 years, taking into account the debt
      service fund rate and levy for all other obligations during this period.