I am just beginning to dig through the Augenblick, Palaich, and Associates, Inc. report, “Recommendations to Strengthen North Carolina’s School Funding System.” APA consultants presented the report to the Joint Legislative Study Committee on Public School Funding Formulas on December 6, 2010.

Most of the recommendations are sensible, but I expect resistance to them from state education officials. If implemented, school districts would have much more flexibility in the way they use state funds. For example, they recommend modifying the statewide teacher salary Schedule “by adding factors that would make it sensitive to uncontrollable cost pressures that districts face in paying teachers.”

One way to do this would be to allow school districts to establish their own salary schedules, rather than abide by a single, statewide scale. According to the consultants, the current system does not account for geographic and “attractiveness” differences among districts. For example, a rural county may be able to hire a first-year teacher with a starting salary of $27,000 a year but not the $30,430 mandated by the current salary schedule.

Other important recommendations include a system akin to a weighted student formula, which would fund districts based on the number of students and student characteristics (additional funds for type of disability, low-income, etc.).