During Tuesday's State of the State speech, Gov. Eric Holcomb announced plans to seek $140 million to go toward teacher pension obligations that are owed by school districts, with 100 percent going toward raises for teachers.

"I believe local school districts should allocate 100 percent of the $140 million to increasing teacher paychecks," he said during the address.

He's also asked for 2 percent for the next two years to go toward K-12 education. 

During his address, Holcomb announced the creation of the Next Level Teacher Pay Commission, which will find ways to make the wages of Indiana's teachers comparable with those in other states.

Boosting teacher pay is a step in the right direction.

However, it shouldn't come at the cost of cutting support staff in the schools.

Some lawmakers, including House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis), believe cutting support staffs is one way to pay for those raises.

Those support staffs, such as nurses, bus drivers and librarians, will likely be affected by whatever raises are given to teachers, according to local superintendents.

"We have many students who are diabetic, on medications that need to be dispensed at school, or get sick or injured at school and need medical attention," said Frankton-Lapel Community Schools Superintendent Bobby Fields.

And, that's only a portion of what they do. 

Indiana employs about 77 non-teachers per 1,000 students, according to the Fordham Institute, which ranks Indiana 13th in the nation for support staff-to-student ratios.

And, without these positions and many others, who would fill those roles?

Melissa Brisco, superintendent at Alexandria Community Schools, said "it's time to stop blaming schools for a situation manufactured at the Statehouse."

"They are pushing it back on the local schools," state Rep. Terri Austin, D-Anderson, said about increases for teachers during Monday's Third House session at the Anderson Public Library. "It will be interesting to watch the different models," she added.

Indeed it will.

© 2019 Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc.