INDIANAPOLIS — House Republicans hope to funnel more state education spending into the classroom by incentivizing schools to share the costs of "back-office" functions, such as purchasing and administration.

House Speaker Brian Bosma, R-Indianapolis, told reporters Thursday that the yet-to-be-unveiled GOP budget proposal, House Bill 1001, will include a process to better track how schools are spending their money and reward those that prioritize teachers and student learning.

He said currently less than 60 percent of the $7 billion in annual state education spending makes it to the classroom, in part because federal data show Indiana has more non-teacher school employees than any state in the country.

"We know that everyone likes their own independent school, but to have independent purchasing, independent administration in every case doesn't always make sense," Bosma said.

To that end, he indicated the budget legislation will provide an additional per-student grant to schools and school districts that agree to cooperate and reduce non-classroom costs, as well as unspecified "relief from their current property tax levy."

Bosma also said he expects the Republican-controlled General Assembly will agree to boost overall school funding for the two-year budget period that begins July 1.

But he cautioned that it's too soon to say exactly what the increase will be, given the pessimistic short-term state revenue forecast.

"It's going to be tighter than the last two record increases that we gave to local public schools," Bosma said.

Hoosier lawmakers this year also are expected to tackle the state's student testing imbroglio, decide whether to spend additional money on pre-kindergarten education and revamp the teacher performance pay system.

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