New laws for back to school

by Sen. Mark Messmer

Another school year is ready to begin across the state, funded by the new biennial state budget passed earlier this year. In the budget, we increased K-12 education support by $763 million. This includes an additional $539 million in baseline tuition support, as well as increased funding for special needs education initiatives and Teacher Appreciation Grants that go directly to increase teacher pay. 

Lawmakers also worked during the 2019 legislative session to create measures that address school bus safety, expand workforce development opportunities for graduating seniors and strengthen the knowledge of civics that students must know.

In response to a terrible school bus accident last year, in which three Fulton County children lost their lives, schools are now required to minimize bus stops that make children cross highways in high-speed areas. This will improve safety conditions for young Hoosiers when they travel to and from school.

To help fill in-demand career opportunities in Indiana, high schools can now replace standard high school courses with career and technical education and work-based courses, programs or experiences of similar subject matter with equal or greater rigor. This will enable more students to graduate with real-world work experience.

In addition, public schools will now administer the U.S. citizenship test as part of the required high school curriculum. While students are not required to pass the test to graduate, it’s our hope this will increase their awareness of how our country operates.

It’s important the young people in Indiana are not only protected, but given a good education that prepares them for the future. These new laws will assist in achieving this – strengthening the future of our state. 

As always, feel free to contact my office directly with your questions and concerns by email at or by phone at 800-382-9467.

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