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.
The Special Education Predictable Cost Cooperative (the Co-op) is a special education finance system that allows the state and local governments to share in special education costs. Our organization, the Connecticut School Finance Project, in partnership with the University of Connecticut’s Goldenson Center for Actuarial Research and Neag School of Education, developed the model to help increase stability and predictability in special education funding for school districts, while ensuring decisions in service delivery and identification remain local.
When charter schools expand, and more kids leave classrooms run by the School District of Philadelphia, it’s not as costly as previously estimated, although the total remains significant. That’s according to a much-anticipated report commissioned by the district in 2015, completed by the consultancy Afton Partners. Uri Monson, Chief Financial Officer for The School District of Philadelphia says in the district’s press release, “Some of the constraints that lead to stranded costs are partially controllable and can be mitigated with action by SDP, albeit via difficult actions such as layoffs and school closures. Continuing to grow and improve District-managed schools, and attracting students back to great schools near where they live, would also mitigate these fiscal challenges for the District.”
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos Monday released a new application for states to use in developing their accountability plans for the Every Student Succeeds Act. And, as you might expect, it is shorter and includes fewer requirements than an earlier application released by the Obama administration in November. The biggest difference seems to be on the requirements for outreach to various groups of educators and advocates.
The great school turnaround: President Barack Obama didn’t fix failing schools even with billions of dollars, can President Donald Trump?
Many remain skeptical of any school choice plan that includes vouchers, a scholarship tax credit or making federal Title I funding portable for poor students and those with disabilities. Indeed, a slate of studies recently published on the effectiveness of voucher programs in Florida, Indiana, Louisiana and Ohio – the largest voucher programs in the country – do much to discredit their effectiveness.
Spending gaps per student, a key metric tracked in Heming and Filardo’s report, have been increasing in many states over the years. These gaps include costs associated with maintenance and operation, and capital construction, as they would be needed depending on the number of children in a school district.
The Trump administration is contemplating dramatic cuts to K-12 spending, including a possible $6 billion reduction to existing programs in the U.S. Department of Education, according to multiple education policy sources who have gleaned details about budget documents still being finalized. The department currently has a budget of about $70 billion.
This year, the bear market looks to be turning, and with Trump’s promise of a $20 billion investment in school choice, the school choice bulls are ready to run. However, any good investment advisor will advise diversifying because going big on any one push can end in disaster. The question for advocates should not be how to make fast gains on a $20 billion investment in school choice, but how to structure that investment to pay off in the long run.
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.