AEF is pleased to release dozens of Funding Equity Data Dashboards to highlight the unfair and unequal treatment that students in these districts have suffered under for nearly 30 years. These clear and easily-understood, 1-page documents summarize Revenue Limits along with the substantial burden of high-needs students in these districts.
Revenue Limits are limitations on the amounts of funding school districts can seek from local taxpayers after the state has provided funding to the district. Sadly, the state doesn’t provide equal amounts of funding. The state then bases the amount districts are allowed raise from local property taxes on the amount the district spent in 1993! It comes as no surprise that district spending levels were all over the map in that year, resulting in unfair and unequal revenues in districts across the state. Our dashboards go a long way to telling this sad story.
Most of a school district’s funding is limited by state law.
Our data dashboards start by showing the sources of revenue. In many cases, more than 70 cents of every dollar in school district revenue is limited by state-mandated caps. In other words, local districts don’t have the power to overcome the unfair funding by the state unless they ask local taxpayers for additional funding to overcome the lack of fair funding from the state.
Revenue limits were set in 1993!
Next, we show the 30-year history of Revenue Limits. The text box in the chart shows what can be called a “Structural Deficit.” We show either the 1-year funding deficit and/or the overall accumulation of deficits. Students in AEF member districts suffer from decades of an unequal and unfair funding system.
Funding is tied to spending…no surprise.
When districts get less funding from the state, and are limited in what they can raise from local property taxpayers, they are stuck in a bind. They simply spend less, and because of it, educational programs suffer. The 2nd page shows spending in the district compared to the state average.
The added challenge of high-needs students
AEF members are committed to doing the right thing–educating students with high needs. Students with disabilities, those from low-income homes, and English learners are more costly to educate. State and federal laws require schools to have programs to meet these needs. The problem is the funding. On top of the challenges AEF member districts face with low revenues, you add the burden of high-needs students. State and federal funding levels have never kept up with these costs. It’s also challenging when a district has a higher number of high-need students. Using a conservative estimate of an extra 40% of expenses for these students, AEF finally predicts a budget gap per student and overall for the current year, based on the number of high-needs students in the district.
It comes down to one thing: Fairness.
It’s time for the legislature to step up and fix these unfair, unequal challenges for districts across the state. Like what you see? Join AEF to help us spread this important message, and join AEF’s Call for Fair Funding. Contact your legislator today (enter your address for legislator contact information) and share your district’s Funding Equity Data Dashboard.