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Trends in the News

Funding Equity

All Posts

School News Network, 2/5/19

MSU finance study finds education funding going backwards, with Michigan dead last among the states — and the disinvestment shows

In light of a new report on Michigan school finances, Kent County area superintendents say there’s no doubt more equitable school funding is needed. Findings show Michigan is dead last among all states in revenue growth for K-12 schools since voters approved Proposal A in 1994, which changed property taxes and school funding. Drops in achievement statewide have occurred during the same timespan, according to the 91-page report, “Michigan School Finance At The Crossroads: A Quarter Century of State Control”,…Godfrey-Lee Public Schools Superintendent Kevin Polston said the report brings awareness to a stark reality.  “What it shows is the correlation between disinvestment in education and drop in rankings (comparing states),” said Polston, who leads Kent County’s highest-poverty district.

Education Dive, 1/25/19

Does outcome-based funding encourage academic progress or deepen the divide?

As Texas lawmakers consider increasing state education funding, some state education leaders fear a turn to outcome-based funding methods for part of that formula, allocating more money to schools based on 3rd-grade reading test scores and the number of graduating seniors who prove to be college- or career-ready. Top state officials have signaled their support for a plan recommended by a state-appointed school finance panel to spend a portion of the recommended education funding — about $800 million — on incentivizing superintendents to improve 3rd-grade reading scores and success rates of high school seniors. However, many education leaders are concerned such outcomes-based incentives will direct the flow of funds from schools that need it most, creating greater funding inequities between districts, and that it will simply encourage teaching to the tests or attempts to game the system. Texas has never tied funding to school performance before, and despite recommendations, lawmakers have yet to propose a bill in support.

The 74 Million, 1/28/19

Supplement not supplant is back: Why education advocates are concerned a wonky new ESSA spending proposal will hurt poor kids

Education advocates say a new Education Department proposal on school spending undermines a key rule that could help ensure equitable spending for low-income students. The wonky “supplement not supplant” rule, included in several reauthorizations of federal K-12 law, including the Every Student Succeeds Act, requires districts to show they’re not using federal Title I grants intended for low-income students when they should be using state and local money instead. Under the Education Department’s proposal, released Friday, districts would have to show their method for allocating funding is “Title I neutral,” meaning the district isn’t explicitly giving less to schools that educate large numbers of low-income children. That flexibility would give districts too much leeway in spending their federal grants, cutting at the heart of legal protections for low-income children, advocates say.

EdSurge, 11/19/18

The actual dollars that will shape the new K-12 investment ecosystem

Business intelligence that relies on a district’s budget and fiscal data will become a fast-growing K-12 market in the next five years. Many school leaders are about to be caught off guard by the fiscal transparency requirement in new Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Most schools do not currently collect this kind of information or if they do, they have not had to report it to the public. School leaders will, over a year or two, likely shift from a reactionary relationship with this information to a productive and strategic one. One probable response will be to adopt a model of continuous improvement that considers whether investments in personnel and non-personnel matters are productive. The topic will become a conference mainstay…and that’s when the market for school business intelligence that incorporates fiscal data will become attractive.

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.”