The debate is especially heated in states looking to overhaul their education funding formulas, some in response to court rulings. And in some states, the picture is complicated by budget shortfalls that threaten deep cuts for K-12 education. Among the states to keep an eye on this year as they look to make fundamental changes to their funding formula are: Connecticut, Delaware, Kansas, Illinois, Mississippi, New Jersey, Washington, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.
In Kansas, the state’s public school finance system “is not reasonably calculated to have all Kansas public education students meet or exceed the minimum constitutional standards of adequacy,” the Kansas Supreme Court says. With the decision, the court also gave state lawmakers time to devise a new school financing system, setting a deadline of June 30.
Texas: Several extolled his bill as a commendable effort to begin modernizing state aid formulas and grant local property taxpayers at least slight relief. The measure would spend an additional $1.6 billion on schools in the next two years.
Twelve of 26 voucher programs nationwide are aimed specifically at students with disabilities, as are 3 of 5 educational savings account programs, 2 of 21 tax-credit scholarship programs, and 1 of 9 individual tax credits or deductions.
Schools loosened their belts a little, in spite of lower federal support, according to new federal data from fiscal 2014. That year, the median school district spent about $10,300 per student, up about 1 percent from fiscal 2012. The uptick was driven by higher spending in suburbs, towns and rural areas; urban districts actually spent a little less.
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.
Last updated in 1999, the current setup has been massaged and manipulated into a Frankenstein-ish mess of loopholes and special grants. Wealthy districts such as Lake Bluff can make up the difference with local tax dollars. That’s not an option for towns that have lost their industrial bases and where home values wither, whether in suburban Chicago or downstate.
The governor proposes allowing municipalities facing “financial hardship” to cut spending on low-achieving schools starting next school year. Malloy would leave it up to municipal leaders to determine how to spend the additional revenue they would get from his budget. The governor also proposes the state’s share of school construction project costs be scaled back and that state spending on after-school and summer school programs that provide tutoring for students be significantly cut. Additionally, he proposes cities and towns pick up one-third of the cost of providing retired teachers and other school staff with pensions, and he proposes a new way to fund special education.
Rural schools have trouble recruiting and retaining good teachers and principals because housing is so limited, pay is so low and working conditions so difficult, education advocates say. Trump has decried failing public schools that are “flush with cash,” but many rural schools — hobbled by a poor local tax base and weak state support — struggle with tight and often shrinking budgets.
Because education funding takes up so much of states’ budgets, the debate over how much schools get tends to dominate legislative sessions. But there are some states this year that are in deep debates on how to reform their education formulas, which could dictate how millions of dollars are distributed to school districts for years to come. Here’s a rundown of a few states he and other school finance hawks are watching closely.