INDIANAPOLIS – Since the state started tracking it, the percentage of money spent “in the classroom” has dropped while expenses in other areas have risen.

That is what lawmakers will try to tackle this year while crafting a state budget with more than half of the money going to K-12 education.

“We need to find a way to concentrate our education dollars in the classroom, where they are most effective with highly motivated teachers of high quality,” said Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis).

The “Dollars to the Classroom” debate first ignited in 2005 when then-Gov. Mitch Daniels made it a focus.

The state started analyzing detailed financial reports showing where every cent of the billions in state, local and federal dollars was spent.

In comparison, private schools that receive $135 million in tax dollars have no reporting requirements.

The baseline year was fiscal year 2006 and showed 60.6 percent in student instructional expenditures. But the Indiana State Board of Education reclassified some of the expense types January 1, 2008. Fiscal year 2009 was the first full year the new methodology was used for a classroom percentage of 57.7. No major alternations have occurred since.

The Indiana Office of Management and Budget posted the 2015 report this week showing $11.7 billion was spent during the fiscal year. Of that, 57.7 percent was in the first two categories – Student Academic Achievement and Student Instructional Support. Those together are considered the “Dollars to the Classroom” and labeled instructional expenditures.

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