by JLF Staff
A new Joint Task Force on Education Finance Reform met for the first time on Wednesday, November 1st. It’s charged to study various weighted student formula funding models and develop a new funding model for the elementary and secondary public schools of North Carolina based on a weighted student formula. What follows is a summary of key issues identified during the presentation and discussion:
Senator Lee Chairing
Rep. Horn (Co-Chair): Doesn’t expect to get everything done during the committee time- encourages legislators to talk to people in their school district(s). Issue of what funds we have and when we have them- and how we distribute them. If we don’t distribute the funds properly, we are wasting the money.
Senator Lee: Purpose of today’s meeting- delve into PED report.
Sean Hamel: Program Evaluation Division Report – Presentation
Click to View Presentation: Allotment-Specific and System-Level Issues Adversely Affect North Carolina’s Distribution of K-12 Resources
Recommendation to General Assembly:
The General Assembly should choose between
Many charts and graphs in slides, explaining allotments and other distribution and analysis (slide 5-8)
Findings of Report –
Section I: Allotment-specific issues (1-7)
Finding 1: Structure of classroom teacher allotment results in distribution of resources across LEAs that favors wealthy counties –>Resources follow the teachers
Finding 2: Children with Disabilities allotment fails to differentiate based on instructional arrangements or setting required and contains a funding cap that results in disproportionately fewer resources going to LEAs with the most students to serve
Finding 3: allotment for Limited English Proficiency (LEP) students contradicts the principles of economies of scale and contains a minimum funding threshold that results in some LEAs serving LEP students without funding
Finding 4: Allotment for small counties is duplicative and is not tied to evidence regarding costs of operating small districts
Finding 5: Low Wealth allotment formula does not rely on the most previse means of calculating an LEA’s ability to generate local funding
Finding 6: Allotment for disadvantaged students provides disproportionate funding across LEAs
Finding 7: Funding for central office administration has been decoupled from changes in student membership, creating an imbalance in distribution of funds
Section II: System-level issues (8-12)
Finding 8: NC’s allotment system is opaque, overly complex, and difficult to comprehend, resulting in limited transparency
Finding 9: Problems with complexity and transparency are exacerbated by a patchwork of laws and documented policies and procedures that seek to explain the system
Finding 10: Allotment transfers –a system feature intended to promote LEA flexibility – hinder accountability for resources targeted at disadvantaged, at-risk, and limited English proficiency students
Finding 11: Translating the allotment system for funding LEAs into a method for providing per-pupil funding to charter schools creates several challenges
Finding 12: Using a weighted student formula is feasible and offers some advantages over the present allotment system, but implementation would require time and careful deliberation
Recommendations: Given current state of allotment system…
Senator Tillman- Current allotment system we have is totally antiquated. Let them have flexibility- they know what they need to do with the funds. Give them flexibility and dollars, rather than positions. How far away are we from doing something like that, and why can’t we simplify that and go toward more flexibility? It’s all about trust. Who are you going to trust – the school board and superintendent?
Hamel: Response to question regarding ADM for charter schools – info collected at the time showed two different procedures for charter schools and non-charter schools
Senator Lee: Reminder that a lot will be covered in committee, and point is to establish a baseline of education for committee – focus on where we are heading, rather than where we have been.
Rep. Johnson – Question about federal money and local money
Hamel – Scope of report is just state funding and allotments that are in your control
Rep. Johnson – Does that mean we cannot change the scope of this?
Senator Lee – The scope is broad enough
Rep. Blackwell – Agrees with Senator Tillman. Try to maximize flexibility with LEAs and let them make decisions based on local needs. As the same time, committee should give thought on how we set standards so flexibility doesn’t become an opportunity for LEAs to fail to meet the needs to the students. Also, would be advantageous for us to understand role of federal and local dollars so we know what they can and cannot do with utilizing those funds. Regarding other states that have gotten away from position alignments- how are their localities involved in establishing the payment schedules?
Rep. Lambeth – We should strive for flexibility, but should also be cautious. We can trust, but also need to verify. Weights is critical piece if we transition to that structure – would be helpful to know how other states have done it. Hold harmless is also important to include during transition period. Another key piece is transportation and how that’s handled in other states.
Hamel: Remember that all weights rely on the base. Transportation is typically carved out of base amount.
Rep. Horn – Will be a heavy lift, and it’s a very complex issue. Three questions:
Hamel – (Responding to questions, respectively)
Senator Brown – Agree with flexibility, but we cannot manage what we cannot measure. We need to be sure we continue to measure and stay on top of the results. Also, there are some counties that pay no supplements, and others that pay a lot of supplements. It will continue to be an issue, especially as we work toward putting weights in place and as we try to get teachers to fill certain areas – particularly the poorly performing areas. Wealthy counties can afford the lobbyists, and you will be lobbied hard on this. You need to think about that as you work toward this process. Some of these small counties have no lobbying representation.
Presentation: Adam Levinson (CFO, NC DPI)
Click to View Presentation: Improving Public Education Finance in NC
PED Study raises valid concerns – in agreement that system should be and can be improved (working with people in state and out of state, to see what makes the most sense)
Focus of work together should follow this pattern: Why –> What –> How
…presentation was cut short due to misunderstanding of intended presentation.
Ending comments: NC DPI looks forward to working with NCGA and other partners, and stands ready to focus on moving forward, rather than looking back.
To view all documents & reports from committee meeting, click here.
Next Meeting: November 15th @ 9:30AM – Mike Griffith will be speaking about what’s going on around the country and what kind of results they’ve had, as well as unintended consequences.