Education

Could ESSA Pit School Communities Against One Another For Money?

By Daarel Burnette II — April 19, 2017 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

When I was reporting last month on the years-long political sparring in Kansas over education funding, Dave Trabert, the president of the Kansas Policy Institute, accused Kansas school districts of taking Title I money and money the state has set aside to close that state’s jarring achievement gap and instead spending it on wealthy white students.

It was an accusation that the state’s superintendents and school board members have been vigorously rebutting with research of their own.

But soon, legislators and school district officials will have a new tool to use when debating school funding when the Every Student Succeeds Act goes into full effect later this year.

I spent last week writing about a little-known but tricky part of the Every Student Succeeds Act that could have outsized implications along those lines, according to several financial gurus I keep in touch with.

On page 50, Section 1111 of the law, there’s the requirement that states report “the per-pupil expenditures of federal, state, and local funds, including actual personnel expenditures and actual nonpersonnel expenditures of Federal, State, and local funds, disaggregated by source of funds, for each local educational agency and each school in the state for the preceding fiscal year.”

At first glance, I couldn’t see what the big deal was. Average per-pupil spending is regularly tossed around in the perennial political fights over how much education costs.

But, as Marguerite Roza, a school finance professor at Georgetown University, pointed out to me, school-by-school spending has long been a sort of black box—she knows that from having audited several districts’ budgets to figure out their spending down to that level of detail.

In a paper, Roza and Cory Edmonds (who I worked with as a reporter in Memphis for several years) wrote in 2014, they explain the evolving way districts have distributed money to schools and argue that only a portion of district funds follow students and their financial needs.

From the paper:

Historically, districts used a staffing formula to assign fixed numbers and types of staff to each school, then budgeted school resources based on staff salaries. Though many districts still use the staffing formula approach, growing numbers of big-city districts are shifting away from allocating resources based on staffing and toward funding schools based on the number and kinds of students they serve.

Roza has found that disparities are exacerbated because of the sometimes haphazard way districts distribute funding between their schools. Teachers with more years of experience often are crowded into schools with fewer poor students; some parent groups advocate for extra janitors and after-school programs; and some schools may find other streams of revenue.

Also, in the April 19 issue of Education Week is a report by my colleague Francisco Vara-Orta who found that, in Wisconsin, after state officials cut almost $1 billion from its education budget, parents (particularly those at the state’s wealthier schools) poured millions of dollars into their schools.

In complying with the new federal law, states now are busy trying to figure out how to parse out, among other things, school transportation, school lunch costs, teacher distribution, PTA contributions, and grants in a comprehensible way for school officials and the public alike.

More than a quarter of Kansas’ students aren’t meeting basic reading and math standards, according to that state’s Supreme Court, which ruled its funding formula inadequate earlier this year. That number includes half the state’s black students and a third of the state’s Hispanic students. As political negotiations over the state’s next funding formula roil on, advocates for this new ESSA law argue that school-level spending would show whether majority black, Latino and poor schools are getting an equitable or, in some cases, more, money than neighboring wealthy white schools.


Don’t miss another State EdWatch post. Sign up here to get news alerts in your email inbox. And make sure to follow @StateEdWatch on Twitter for the latest news from state K-12 policy and politics.

A version of this news article first appeared in the State EdWatch blog.

Events

Jobs October 2021 Virtual Career Fair for Teachers and K-12 Staff
Find teaching jobs and other jobs in K-12 education at the EdWeek Top School Jobs virtual career fair.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Data Webinar
Using Integrated Analytics To Uncover Student Needs
Overwhelmed by data? Learn how an integrated approach to data analytics can help.

Content provided by Instructure
Professional Development Online Summit What's Next for Professional Development: An Overview for Principals
Join fellow educators and administrators in this discussion on professional development for principals and administrators.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education 'Widespread' Racial Harassment Found at Utah School District
The federal probe found hundreds of documented uses of the N-word and other racial epithets, and harsher discipline for students of color.
1 min read
A CNG, compressed natural gas, school bus is shown at the Utah State Capitol, Monday, March 4, 2013, in Salt Lake City. After a winter with back-to back episodes of severe pollution in northern Utah, lawmakers and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert will discuss clean air legislation and call for government and businesses to convert to clean fuel vehicles.
Federal civil rights investigators found widespread racial harassment of Black and Asian American students in the Davis school district north of Salt Lake City, Utah.
Rick Bowmer/AP Photo
Education Tiny Wrists in Cuffs: How Police Use Force Against Children
An investigation finds children as young as 6 and a disproportionate amount of Black children have been handled forcibly by police officers.
15 min read
Jhaimarion, 10, reacts as he listens to his mother, Krystal Archie talking with an Associated Press reporter in Chicago on Sept. 23, 2021. Archie’s three children were present when police, on two occasions, just 11 weeks apart, kicked open her front door and tore through their home searching for drug suspects. She’d never heard of the people they were hunting. Her oldest child, Savannah was 14 at the time; her youngest, Jhaimarion, was seven. They were ordered to get down on the floor.
Jhaimarion, 10, reacts as he listens to his mother, Krystal Archie talking with an Associated Press reporter in Chicago on Sept. 23, 2021. Archie’s three children were present when police, on two occasions, just 11 weeks apart, kicked open her front door and tore through their home searching for drug suspects. She’d never heard of the people they were hunting. Her oldest child, Savannah was 14 at the time; her youngest, Jhaimarion, was seven. They were ordered to get down on the floor.
Nam Y. Huh/AP
Education Gunman in 2018 Parkland School Massacre Pleads Guilty
A jury will decide whether Nikolas Cruz will be executed for one of the nation’s deadliest school shootings.
3 min read
Annika Dworet and her husband, Mitch Dworet, wipe away tears as their son's name is read aloud during Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz's guilty plea on all 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 shootings, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. The Dworet's son, Nicholas Dworet, 17, was killed in the massacre.
Annika Dworet and her husband, Mitch Dworet, wipe away tears as their son's name is read aloud during Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooter Nikolas Cruz's guilty plea on all 17 counts of premeditated murder and 17 counts of attempted murder in the 2018 shootings, at the Broward County Courthouse in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. on Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021. The Dworet's son, Nicholas Dworet, 17, was killed in the massacre.
Amy Beth Bennett/South Florida Sun Sentinel via AP
Education Briefly Stated: October 20, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read