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Funding Equity

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The 74 Million, 9/10/18

Study shows boosting funds to poor school districts lifts student achievement but fails to narrow racial & socioeconomic achievement gaps

An article published earlier this year in the American Economic Journal…finds that districts provided with increased revenues by school finance reforms see improvements in standardized test scores, though the extra money hasn’t helped close persistent gaps between various racial and socioeconomic groups. Not everyone is convinced of the study’s findings, however. Eric Hanushek, an education economist and fellow at the conservative Hoover Institution, said that, “The difficult analytical issue is how you separate out spending from all kinds of other things, like changing the requirements for teacher certification, or changing the accountability rules, or the variety of things that state legislatures do over time.”

Education Week, 8/24/18

District spending is about to get a lot more transparent. Are you ready?

ESSA requires districts to publish per-pupil allocations for actual personnel and non-personnel expenditures by each funding source (federal, state, and local funds), for each district, and school on their annual report cards. In the short term, superintendents and principals will need to get on the same page about current district allocation policies and practices, why some schools appear to get more resources than others, and how this all aligns with the stated vision and mission of the district. Over the long term, the new expenditure reporting requirements will push superintendents to be more strategic about managing productivity. This new transparency will make it easier for the public to investigate the relationship between academic and financial data.

Chalkbeat, 8/15/18

Poll: Most residents want Michigan to change the way it funds schools

Most Michigan residents believe the state’s current method of funding schools is both insufficient and unfair. Those were the findings of a new statewide poll that was conducted in June by the School Finance Research Collaborative, a prominent group of Michigan educators, policymakers, and business leaders that has called for major changes to the way schools are funded. The poll follows a report the collaborative released in January, which recommended sweeping changes to the way schools in Michigan are funded. Instead of sending schools the same amount per student, the report recommended providing schools with additional funds for students who are learning English, living in poverty or facing other challenges.

Education Week, 8/9/18

What Is ESSA’s new school-spending transparency requirement, and how will it work?

This school year, an often-overlooked provision in the Every Student Succeeds Act will offer some deeper information when states start reporting to the public school-by-school spending. Actual school spending—rather than average district per-pupil spending—can reveal where the most experienced teachers are working, whether racial minorities and districts’ neediest children are receiving their fair (and necessary) share of tax dollars, and if schools that get the same amount of money are getting the same academic results. ESSA for the first time requires the public reporting of that data, starting in the 2018-19 school year. But how to collect and report this data, a technically challenging and politically thorny process, has roiled the school finance community.

The 74, 7/24/18

New Report: Most states lack power to merge struggling districts with wealthy neighbors, leaving poor districts stranded

A report released by EdBuild on school district consolidations highlights the roadblocks financially fraught districts across the country face when school leaders try to merge with more stable neighboring districts. Lawmakers in nine states have granted a state-level entity authority to mandate school district consolidations under dire circumstances, while mergers remain voluntary in most parts of the country.  In states where consolidation is voluntary, however, community members and school leaders in wealthier school systems have few incentives to help out their struggling neighbors.  EdBuild puts the blame on the system employed in most U.S. states, which ties school funding revenue to local property taxes.

Education Week, 4/2/18

Digging deeper into that $300 million increase in Federal Aid for poor students

“The $300 million increase … is split evenly between two of those four formulas, with targeted and finance incentive grants each getting $150 million more in fiscal 2018 than fiscal 2017…Targeted grants provide more money per child as a district’s poverty rate increases, while finance incentive grants are designed to address funding environments in “good finance”—those that spend relatively large amounts on schools and do so equitably—and “bad finance” states.”

Education Week, 3/15/18

Indianapolis, Puerto Rico, and three other districts raise their hands for funding pilot

Indianapolis, Puerto Rico, and three other school districts have applied to join the Every Student Succeeds Act’s weighted student-funding pilot during the 2018-19 school year. Participating districts can combine federal, state, and local dollars into a single funding stream tied to individual students. English-language learners, children in poverty, and students in special education—who cost more to educate—would carry with them more money than other students.

Texas Tribune, 3/16/18

Will Texas school finance panel tell schools to do more with less? Some members think it’s predetermined

He said the commission has also heard from school leaders with innovative ideas on subjects such as how to keep the best teachers at the most challenging schools and how to use full-day pre-K to get students at an academic baseline early in life. “Those two things without question cannot be funded or sustained with the current funding levels we have,” Bernal said. “Even the districts that piloted it said they were about to run out of money.”

Chalkbeat Colorado, 3/19/18

Done doing ‘more with less,’ Brighton district will move to a four-day school week

The change is expected to save the district about $1 million a year, but Brighton Superintendent Chris Fiedler previously told Chalkbeat that the biggest benefit will be “to attract and retain teachers” in a district whose salaries are among the lowest in the metro area. “I realize this will be a significant change for our students, their families, and the communities we are so fortunate to serve, but our district can no longer be expected to do more with less financial resources,” Fiedler said in a press release.

The Inquirer, 3/12/18

New Jersey grapples with solutions to soaring special-education costs

School districts spend on average about 22 percent of their budgets on special education, Donahue said — up from 13 percent in 2006-07, according to an association survey of business administrators. While districts can’t increase their budgets by more than 2 percent without voter approval, “special-education costs have no cap,” Donahue said. The costs have added to school district budget pressures in a state with some of the highest property taxes in the country — and that has for years failed to follow its formula for distributing money to schools.