The chairman in charge of crafting the Senate’s education budget proposal signaled again Thursday that Florida Gov. Rick Scott’s plan to increase K-12 education dollars primarily off the checkbooks of local taxpayers isn’t going to fly. Scott aims to boost funding for K-12 schools by more than $500 million. But only $80 million of that is extra state money, while $427.3 million — 85 percent — would come from rebounding property taxes.
School finance policy isn’t simple. But it is arguably the most important policy debate in state houses. Lawmakers must act with the guiding principles of equity and flexibility front and center to build the foundation on which system of schools that serves children well can thrive. As states deal with these big funding questions, this blog offers five things to consider.
The facade of equality collapses, however, when one realizes that Michigan funds only part of local school districts’ expenses. Crucially, Michigan provides zero funds for building new school facilities, or for improving or maintaining older schools. Whenever a district needs to replace or refurbish an aging school building, it must raise the funds itself. And as a practical matter, Michigan provides school districts just one way to pay for physical infrastructure: through local property taxes.
Now that it is clear that Texas’ complicated school finance system is here to stay, districts around the state must find a way to move forward — whether that is by pressuring lawmakers for more money or by raising property taxes.
By Marguerite Roza, Ph.D., Director of the Edunomics Lab and Research Professor at Georgetown University – For more than a decade, the federal government has required districts to report student outcomes by school. Spending was the missing piece. The new federal ESSA rights that wrong and will require districts to account for school-by-school spending and publicly report it. When the spending data are daylighted, the evidence will be clear that many districts have hardwired systematic spending inequities in their operations.
The report— “Expanding Equity: Leveraging the Every Student Succeeds Act to Provide Direct Student Services”—is a kind of how-to-guide for states and districts interested in taking advantage of the chance to set aside 3 percent of statewide Title I funds for “direct student services.”
During a presentation at the Council of Chief State School Officers’ legislative conference, Mississippi education department officials as well as two Title I policy experts encouraged state leaders to work with districts on more creative uses of Title I and other money to better support student learning, and to make sure broader groups of officials are thinking about and overseeing how schools use federal funds.
This policy proposal lays out a series of reforms to Title I. It proposes ways to promote local spending decisions that are both efficient and true to the original antipoverty intent of the program, and changes to the multiple complex and opaque funding formulas to improve transparency and progressivity, depoliticizing the distribution of funds.
The voucher-style ESA program is easily the most sweeping school choice program of its kind in the nation…In an effort to stop the program from being scrapped by the courts, which could doom similar programs in other states in the future, national school choice groups have set their sights on Nevada and thrown their weight behind defending the program. On the other side, the national Education Law Center has done the same.
The newly reauthorized version of the main federal K-12 law makes significant changes in how schools can use dollars set aside for economically disadvantaged students. Those and other changes give states and districts more flexibility in general—and particularly in how they use Title I aid. Around four dozen districts will also get the chance to create a new funding formula, using federal dollars, that’s intended to target more money directly to students from low-income backgrounds and other students, like English-language learners, who may have disadvantages.