Districts Experiment With 'Weighted' Funding
Student numbers, needs drive dollars
Before this school year, creating a budget for schools in the Boston school district would regularly expose a tangle of competing interests.
The district had multiple ways of funding its schools. Some schools were allocated staff members based on student counts; other schools, which had been granted some budget autonomy, were given a pot of money based on enrollment. In tough budget years, cuts were made across the board—except in some schools, which couldn't operate with those reductions and ended up having money restored. Years of such adjustments created wide funding disparities among schools.
But in 2011, the 57,000-student district made a shift to a more uniform way of funding schools based on the numbers and types of students they served, with extra money, or "weights," given for students who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, enrolled in special education, learning English, or academically off track, among other factors. Instead of being forced to hire a certain number of staff members with that money, principals got flexibility in how...
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