Now the two states with the most rapid school age population growth, Nevada and Arizona, have joined Florida in trying out Education Savings Accounts. ESAs give parents the option of taking a chunk of the money the state would otherwise spend on their children and using it as they see fit.
This new paper takes the first systematic look at costs associated with implementing personalized learning schools, how leaders of these schools choose to allocate their funds, and what it might take to make personalized learning financially sustainable on public dollars. Researchers at the Center on Reinventing Public Education, in partnership with Afton Partners, studied 16 charter elementary and secondary schools with a wide range of personalized learning models from across the country.
Just as venture capitalists have financial incentives for backing education technology ventures—to the tune of $1.85 billion in the U.S. last year alone—and relevant expertise to bring to bear on their efforts, foundations have financial as well as social motivations, and their knowledge and expertise can come in handy, too.
Districts that think through the longer term cost trade-offs up front have a much greater chance of implementing a sustainable and scalable model to serve all students in their district. The Learning Accelerator created this guide to help encourage educators to approach financial planning for blended learning with a focus on developing a multi-year plan.
Few education initiatives in Florida are expanding faster than the Legislature’s efforts to cover education costs for families who want to send their children to private schools. Florida’s Tax Credit Scholarship Program for low-income families continues to grow rapidly, aided by 2014 legislation that allowed more families to enroll. And the state’s Personal Learning Scholarship Accounts program is entering its second year, with individual scholarships that allow families to tailor education services for special needs children and young adults.
What I found most noteworthy is how little we know, on a national basis, about how much is spent on special education and what connection any of that spending has to student outcomes. There were a series of reports that came out in the early 2000s on special education funding, and they can be found at the website of the Center for Special Education Finance/Special Education Expenditure Project. But all those reports were based on figures collected during the 1999-2000 school year. Wouldn’t it be interesting to know how the state of special education funding has changed since then?
After relatively flat enrollment through the end of the 2000s, public K-12 enrollment started to tick up again in 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics’ Digest of Education Statistics, 2014, the 50th in the series of annual and biennial reports compiling education data.
Because of the way the state funds schools, it can be especially tough when small schools lose students. Enrollment in Macon County schools remains higher than it was 10 or 12 years ago, but the district has lost some students to neighboring charter schools, according to Chris Baldwin, superintendent of Macon County Schools.
By 2015, “overload” pay shot up to $1.8 million – roughly 22 times as much as in 2011. School officials say it’s the result of a significant increase in overload pay written into the most recent union contract, negotiated in 2014, coupled with enrollment increases and difficulty filling some positions.
Nonetheless, Orleans Superintendent Henderson Lewis Jr. backed the proposal firmly, voting yes and issuing a joint statement with Recovery Superintendent Patrick Dobard. They said it was a matter not of school versus school or Recovery versus Orleans, but of ensuring basic fairness in how the city’s main stream of education money flows to children.