Friday, June 18, 2010

New RI Funding Formula & Charters


Charter schools and vocational schools will lose some state aid as the new law changes the way those schools are financed.

Yet, charter advocates seem quite happy, despite their state funding being cut. Is it because the plan includes stronger "money follows the student" provisions. It is unclear to me what this really means to charters and other state-run schools. Less money from the state but more from the student's home district? I don't know. I've not seen this explained at all.

Also, I was wondering about Lincoln and Cumberland's districts likely losing nearly 10% of their students (and thus money) as their mayoral academy comes on line. As it turns out, they're big winners in the new funding formula, so that should even out the sting.


JuneA said...

I bet charter advocates are happy because the follow-the-student funding is more transparent now. If the charters do their job and attract more students, they will receive more funding over time (even if they take a lesser $$$ hit in the short term).

Thinking beyond which districts or schools get more or less money in the next year, the idea of student-centered funding makes things more fair in the long-term. Everyone should benefit.

Tom Hoffman said...

Well, no "everyone" won't benefit. All other things being equal, a district losing 5% or 10% of its students will have serious fiscal problems and will have to make painful cuts to the schools that serve the vast majority of their students.

JuneA said...

"Well, no".... If a district loses money it will be because they have less enrollment, i.e. less students to serve. They should be able to plan for changes in enrollment now. It is a more equitable funding model.

The new funding formula is not perfect, no public policy is. There will always be winners and losers. From the sounds of it RI has tried its best to minimize the number of losers from this new change.

The long term benefit however is a focus on more equitable funding. If your district sees and increase in students, you get more money to serve them. If your district sees an increase in poor students, you get more money to serve them. If your district sees a drop in enrollment, you of course get less money, but you also now have less students.

I think that giving more funding to poorer and higher needs students is a good thing. I think giving districts with higher enrollment more money and districts who serve less students is a good thing.

I also think poo-pooing RI's first attempt at equitable funding reform because some areas will lose money (FROM HAVING LESS STUDENTS) is rather short-sighted.

Tom Hoffman said...

I'm not really pooh-poohing it. I just don't think the implications of the money following the student, or the intentions behind it, have been made clear.

You also have to remember that school districts -- particularly smaller ones -- don't scale down smoothly and linearly. There are fixed costs, etc. You end up doing stupid things like closing some of your highest performing high schools because they're small and the easiest to close, etc.

Also, on the other hand, if charter schools are getting more money, it would be easier for my wife to get a job in the kind of school which is a good fit for her, and we'd make more money.

And I was chuckling over beers last night with a friend over the possibility of a charter school he's planning taking money out of the PPSD's pocket. I'm not necessarily against that.