New historical federal data shows school spending in recent years continued to climb as state and local sales, income and property tax revenue rebounded. The National Center for Education Statistics this week reported that K-12 revenue was up 3.2 percent between fiscal years 2015 and 2016 and spending in fiscal year 2016 climbed 2.4 percent to around $10,800 per student. The report provides an annual detailed look at the most recently available federal, state, and local spending on districts across the country. While lagging by three years, it shows that K-12 revenue and spending since the recession continued to tick upward for rural, suburban and urban districts across the country.
A report released by Education Trust last year revealed that, after adjusting for the additional costs of educating low-income students, the highest poverty districts in Rhode Island receive $2,282 or 14% less per student in state and local funding than those with the least poverty. What is causing this gap for Providence? City leadership has flat-funded K-12 education for almost a decade, despite unavoidable cost increases (including building maintenance, busing, and cost-of-living adjustments). District leadership has had no choice but to cut critical supports and services to provide a balanced budget to the city. State leadership has increased education funding to Providence each year, but not by enough to meet the needs of our growing low-income and English Learner student populations… Basic supports for strong learning environments, such as teacher assistants and training for school staff, should be increasing, but, instead, are at constant risk of being cut.
Tens of thousands of teachers are expected to walk out across Oregon this week, adding to the string of nationwide protests over class sizes and education funding. Schools around the state, including Oregon’s largest district, Portland Public Schools, will close for at least part of Wednesday as educators press for more money from lawmakers. Oregon schools have some of the highest class sizes and lowest graduation rates in the United States. Districts have just one librarian, or none at all, fewer than the recommended number of counselors and been forced to cut programs like physical education and music. But unlike other states, Oregon teachers want to make it clear they’re not pushing for pay raises or other union demands. They say they’re walking out to highlight the conditions inside the classroom and how years of lower funding has affected children’s learning opportunities.
At the beginning of this year, the National Conference of State Legislatures predicted there was a chance that more than half of states could finally overhaul the antiquated—and, advocates say, often inequitable—formulas that have been dictating their K-12 funding for years. But balancing state and local resources, deciding which districts should get what, and figuring out how to distribute money in a way that will spur academic achievement is tricky. While there’s a strong chance that states such as Maryland and Texas are likely to see major changes to state spending patterns as a result of decisions made this legislative season, others, such as Idaho and Nevada, have had a hard time getting funding formula replacement efforts off the ground. Here’s a snapshot of some of the most animated political battles this legislative season to replace, update, and legally grapple with school funding formulas.
Large Colorado school districts…are preparing to switch to full-day programs this fall, potentially pushing up the cost of Gov. Jared Polis’ signature education initiative. Lawmakers have set aside $185 million — about 80 percent of what Polis requested — to pay for full-day kindergarten next year. Their logic in not paying for all of it: That not all districts will immediately make the jump and that not all parents will enroll their children in full-day since there is no mandate. Some lawmakers were already concerned about the long-term sustainability of Polis’ plan, which depends on local property tax revenue remaining high. Colorado currently funds kindergarten students at a little more than half the rate of older students. Some districts pay for kindergarten out of their own funds, and many families pay tuition for full-day programs. Bipartisan legislation would fund kindergarten students at the same rate and ban districts from charging tuition.
For several sessions, the push in the Texas Legislature to fund full-day pre-K in public schools has failed. State lawmakers have yet to agree on a way to fund a full-day pre-K program, but that could change this session. The full Texas House will take up its school finance measure this week, which includes a $750 million provision to fund full-day pre-K. Pre-K funding is more likely this session, as lawmakers seem finally ready to address the state’s long-standing school finance issues, and as evidence of the importance of pre-K education mounts. Debates over pre-K funding center on whether the money would come from one-time grants, as it has in the past, or whether it would be part of the legislature’s biennial spending on education.
Illinois’ new evidence-based school funding model is effectively driving added funding to the state’s neediest school districts, but the state must double its annual added investment in the formula if districts are to reach funding adequacy in a timely manner, according to a report released Wednesday by the bipartisan Center for Tax and Budget Accountability. For the state to make up a $7.35 billion education funding shortfall and meet adequacy levels within 10 years as specified in the legislation, CTBA President Ralph Martire said, the actual annual funding increase would have to be closer to $779 million.
Miller: Texas’s bold plan linking funding to academic outcomes should yield big gains for students, especially those at risk
The Texas Commission on Public School Finance recently recommended investing $800 million more annually in college readiness and third-grade reading proficiency. Both my personal experience and the academic evidence strongly suggest that outcomes-based funding can result in significant student gains. The key is whether the system is properly designed. Texas’s proposal is just that. Districts will receive at least $1,450 for each student proficient in third-grade reading. If the student comes from a low-income family, the district will receive $3,400. That’s a 24 percent increase to base funding for literacy instruction that will become a permanent component of the overall system. But perhaps the most beneficial element of this proposal is the size of the weights for at-risk students, which are used for allocating additional funding above base funding levels to categories of students who are shown to cost more to educate to state standards. For both third-grade proficiency and postsecondary success, the Texas proposal includes more than 200 percent additional funding for successful at-risk students — almost 10 times the 22 percent typically spent by states on these students.
Senators are making a last-ditch run to pass an end-of-session bill addressing Idaho’s K-12 funding formula. The bulk of the bill would define student groups — at-risk students, economically disadvantaged students, special education students, English language learners and gifted and talented students. Under a new formula, which bases funding on enrollment numbers, these student groups would be “weighted.” In other words, schools would receive additional funding to teach students who fall into these groups. If the state rewrites its funding formula — in 2020, or some future year — payments to school districts and charter schools would hinge on these definitions.
A bill that would inject an additional $6 billion into Texas classrooms over the next two years advanced to the Texas House on Tuesday, without a provision that teachers groups feared would have tied a portion of their pay to their students’ performance on state standardized tests. The 13-member House Committee on Public Education unanimously approved House Bill 3, which has the backing of an overwhelming majority of House members. Among other things, HB 3 would: “increase base funding per student from $5,140 to $6,030, eliminate outdated formula elements, and provide funding for full-day pre-kindergarten”