(INDIANA STATEHOUSE) - State lawmakers are close to reaching a deal on a bill that would provide schools with more funding flexibility in the wake of $300 million budget cuts.
Key negotiators on both sides of the aisle have apparently agreed on the major parts of the legislation, including a provision that would prompt education officials to create a program to improve elementary students' reading skills.
Senator Mike Delph (R-Carmel) says both Republicans and Democrats see it as an important part of the bill.
Lawmakers are reportedly stopping short of passing a measure that would require schools to retain third-graders who could not read at their grade level.
Instead, Senator Luke Kenley's proposal would ask State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett and the State Board of Education to develop that plan to focus on reading ability.
Final negotiations are now shifting to the details of creating additional spending flexibility for schools.
The bill will likely include language to allow a school district to transfer 5% of the amount it taxes each year for building projects to its general fund as long as the additional money is spent on classroom expenses.
Districts also would be allowed to transfer up to 10% if workers give up pay raises that aren't tied to experience or additional degrees.
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