Rise & Shine: House committee considers school prayer bill

8 things you should know about Indiana education

1. EASING VOUCHER ACCOUNTABILITY: When Hoosier private schools receive D or F grades from the state for two consecutive years, they are barred from accepting new students who receive tuition vouchers. The Indiana legislature is considering easing up those restrictions by allowing schools to appeal to the State Board of Education. Read more in Chalkbeat, WFYI and IndyStar.

2. HOME HUNTING: Purdue Polytechnic High School had found a temporary home where it could launch next fall, but unexpectedly high repair costs could stymie long-term plans to move into the former P.R. Mallory factory on the east side. The high school, which was founded by Purdue University, will open next fall as an innovation school in partnership with Indianapolis Public Schools. Read more in Chalkbeat’s story from last summer.

3. BUDGET WOES: With Muncie schools facing a severe budget crunch, the district is pushing to cut teacher pay. But the plan is meeting strong opposition from the teachers union, as well as some students and families. Earlier this month, hundreds of people rallied to support the union. After two years of negotiation, the district and union have been unable to come up with a contract, and if they don’t come to an agreement by Friday, the state will intervene. Read more in the Star Press.

4. ASK THE VOTERS: The school district in Lake Station, near Gary, is making an appeal to voters for more money in a referendum to increase taxes that will appear on the ballot this spring. The move comes less than two years after voters resoundingly rejected a similar measure. But the district says that without the cash, it will need to cut essential services like bus transportation. Read more in the Times of Northwest Indiana.

5. MORE A-F GRADES?: A new proposal, backed by both Democrats and Republicans on the House Education Committee, would give schools a second A-F grade based just on the scores of students who have attended for at least a year — an effort to help schools with the most highly mobile students. Chalkbeat has more details.

6. WHO’S WHO: In our second installment examining Indiana’s education power players, we feature Sen. Dennis Kruse, R-Auburn, a conservative lawmaker who currently serves as chairman of the Senate Education Committee. You might also remember him as a co-author of 2015’s controversial Religious Freedom and Restoration Act. More from Chalkbeat here.

7. STRIKE ONE FOR SUPERINTENDENT BILL: The Indiana Senate voted down a bill that would make the state superintendent an appointed — rather than elected — position. Even though Senate Bill 179 is dead, the similar House Bill 1005 made it through. What happens next? The Indy Star and StateImpact have more.

8. SCHOOL PRAYER: A lively debate over a House bill that advocates for prayer in school rounded out today’s House Education Committee meeting, where students, community members and clergy spoke passionately in favor of, and against, the measure. Find more at WISH-TV, AP, WIBC, the Journal Gazette, and the Indy Star.