Published: January 6, 2005
In 1993, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled in Alabama Coalition for Equity v. Hunt that the state’s school finance system was unconstitutional. In 1995, the state implemented a new foundation formula that incorporated some of the concerns raised in the court case. Under the new program, funds are allocated based on teacher and instructional-support units. The state calculates the number of teacher units required for each school by taking the school’s average daily membership and dividing it by student-to-teacher ratios for different grade levels established by the legislature. Instructional-support units consist of positions for principals, assistant principals, counselors, librarians, and secretaries. The state calculates the money associated with each teacher and instructional-support unit for every school based on four factors: the costs of teacher salaries, employee benefits, classroom support, and other current expenses. Alabama’s formula also incorporates adjustments for vocational and special education programs. The state bases the adjustments on a percentage of the total average daily membership in each district, not the number of students participating in the programs. To receive state aid, each district must levy a 10-mill property tax or its equivalent through a 1-cent sales tax. Alabama also provides money for schools through eight categorical programs, including transportation, preschool education, programs for at-risk students, and school construction.
Vol. 24, Issue 17, Page 62