Education Funding

R.I. Aims at Equity in Funding Formula

By Lesli A. Maxwell — August 09, 2010 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

For the first time in more than 15 years, Rhode Island has a statewide school funding formula that supporters say will more equitably dole out money to its public schools, though the new system has hardly settled the debate over how best to divvy up state aid for public education.

The formula, approved by Rhode Island legislators and signed into law in late June by Republican Gov. Donald L. Carcieri, establishes a baseline funding amount for every student in the state. It also provides additional money—40 percent over the base—for every student who meets the poverty guidelines for the federal free- and reduced-price meals program.

Rhode Island, which has 145,000 students, had been the only state in the nation without a statewide formula for distributing education aid.

The new formula is linked to student enrollment and accounts for a community’s ability to pay local school costs. Districts with increased student enrollments or that serve large numbers of poor students will see their state share of aid rise, while those with falling enrollment or fewer poor students will see their funding decrease. The formula takes effect in the 2011-12 school year.

For years, the state’s districts have had wide disparities in per-pupil funding, ranging from $11,000 per student in one poorer district to more than $19,000 per student in more affluent communities.

“This is about equitable distribution that is consistent, transparent, and understood by everyone,” said Deborah A. Gist, Rhode Island’s education commissioner. “This formula directs state funds in ways that reflect our policy priorities, and that includes ensuring a good education for every Rhode Island student and making sure that we close achievement gaps.”

State officials have been grappling for years with how to best distribute aid to districts—especially since 1995, when an old formula was scrapped following widespread complaints that it was inequitable. Making the state more competitive for the $4 billion federal Race to the Top competition was among the incentives in the recent successful push.

Rhode Island will spend roughly $856 million on public schools in fiscal 2011, about 34 percent of the states expenditures, according to officials in the state department of education.

A version of this article appeared in the August 11, 2010 edition of Education Week as R.I. Aims at Equity in Funding Formula

Events

School & District Management Webinar How Pensions Work: Why It Matters for K-12 Education
Panelists explain the fundamentals of teacher pension finances — how they are paid for, what drives their costs, and their impact on K-12 education.
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
Curriculum Webinar
Strategies for Incorporating SEL into Curriculum
Empower students to thrive. Learn how to integrate powerful social-emotional learning (SEL) strategies into the classroom.
Content provided by Be GLAD
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
School & District Management Webinar
Leadership in Education: Building Collaborative Teams and Driving Innovation
Learn strategies to build strong teams, foster innovation, & drive student success.
Content provided by Follett Learning

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 Funding What New School Spending Data Show About a Coming Fiscal Cliff
New data show just what COVID-relief funds did to overall school spending—and the size of the hole they might leave in school budgets.
4 min read
Photo illustration of school building and piggy bank.
F. Sheehan for Education Week + iStock / Getty Images Plus
Education Funding When There's More Money for Schools, Is There an 'Objective' Way to Hand It Out?
A fight over the school funding formula in Mississippi is kicking up old debates over how to best target aid.
7 min read
Illustration of many roads and road signs going in different directions with falling money all around.
iStock/Getty
Education Funding Explainer How Can Districts Get More Time to Spend ESSER Dollars? An Explainer
Districts can get up to 14 additional months to spend ESSER dollars on contracts—if their state and the federal government both approve.
4 min read
Illustration of woman turning back hands on clock.
Education Week + iStock / Getty Images Plus Week
Education Funding Education Dept. Sees Small Cut in Funding Package That Averted Government Shutdown
The Education Department will see a reduction even as the funding package provides for small increases to key K-12 programs.
3 min read
President Joe Biden delivers a speech about healthcare at an event in Raleigh, N.C., on March 26, 2024.
President Joe Biden delivers a speech about health care at an event in Raleigh, N.C., on March 26. Biden signed a funding package into law over the weekend that keeps the federal government open through September but includes a slight decrease in the Education Department's budget.
Matt Kelley/AP