Here’s a math problem even the brightest school districts struggle to solve: getting hordes of elementary, middle and high school students onto buses and to school on time every day. In such problems, improving operational efficiency even a little could result in great advantages.
America’s educators need every tool in the toolbox to turn around chronically struggling schools. Choice alone won’t do it. Local control, in and of itself, won’t do it; for the most part, we have local control and it’s one of the big reasons some low-performing schools languish for decades. More money is important, but all funds need to be spent strategically. Successful turnarounds must be accompanied by real and meaningful changes in the way we train and support teachers, the way we instruct students and the way we structure our time and use our resources.
A new report from EdBuild, Building Equity: Fairness in Property Tax Effort for Education, analyzes the way public schools are funded via property taxes and how this affects school funding equity. The disparities in “tax effort” for education funding are a key emphasis for the report, which aims to determine whether the burden put on poorer districts is more than their wealthier counterparts.
The state’s Center for Educational Performance and Information recently posted 2015-16 financial data for Michigan’s traditional public and charter schools. Here are some of the highlights of that data, which includes charters schools unless otherwise noted: Michigan public schools’ operating budgets totaled $13.9 billion in 2015-16 about 6% less than 2007-08; traditional, charters spend their money in different ways; and schools are spending less on salaries and insurance, but more on retirement and contracted services, among other findings.
Schools with at least 51 percent Hispanic students saw 1.8 percent of their total budgets frozen, on average — that’s about twice the average rate of 0.9 percent frozen at schools with at least 51 percent of white students, according to a Chicago Sun-Times analysis of the freezes. The schools that lost the highest percentage of their remaining spending power — 1.8 percent on average — also serve the very poorest children, where nine out of 10 students qualify for the free or reduced-price lunch that is shorthand for school poverty.
Mississippi: The per-pupil cost would depend on several variables, including how much would be spent on technology, classroom supplies and professional development for teachers. Wealthier school districts could be in line to receive less money from the state. But schools could receive more for educating low-income students and those who don’t speak English as their first language.
This summer, Philadelphia became the first big city to pass a sweetened-beverage levy, which was designed to fund the early childhood program. The city will pump $12.2 million into pre-K this year, funded through the beverage tax, and hopes to ramp up funding to cover 6,500 children in five years.
States like California and districts like Boston, Denver and Houston, among others, have been transitioning to a finance model that gives principals greater authority over their schools’ budgets in exchange for being held accountable for student outcomes. Rather than manage (and limit) how schools spend their money through rules and regulations, officials focus on how to distribute monies more equally among schools.
Mr. Wilson is facing a rebellion by teachers and some parents against his plan to allow families to use a single form to apply to any of the city’s 86 district-run schools or 44 charter campuses, all of which are competing for a shrinking number of students.
Student based budgeting is a flexible budget that gives principals the ability to tailor a large portion of their budget specific to their school instead of having the district put out a one-size-fits-all budget for all schools in the district. The 2015-2016 school year is the first year student-based budgeting has been used in the Metro School District, allowing schools to spend on what they need, whether it be computers, calculators, books, furniture, or anything else the school and its students need.