Educational Reform Cost Money but Who Should Foot the Bill?
Public School Funding is Not So Equal
Funding for schools is broken down in the following ways: federal contribution 8 %, LEA 48.7% and state 48.7%. Considering factors in a formula to distribute state resources to public schools would include the school districts economic tax base and student count as priority funding. State and federal aid would be used at discretion. In consideration of a percentage-equaling grant, each district would have more or less state and federal financial support. In rich districts, it is possible that the state will not be a source of revenue because their economic base is sufficient to fund its schools. This would leave more funds available for poorer districts to have more revenue to draw from to equalize funding across that state and nation. While this may be a workable solution, implications may center on districts with revenues from big corporations and thriving tax revenue sources. These districts may continue to have lucrative income beyond neighboring districts but at least each district would have a minimum level of funding beyond its current status.
Louisiana Makes Swift Changes
Educational reform is not a new phenomenon (Dewey, 1997). Policy changes in the 21st century are focusing on equitable achievement for every student (U.S. Department of Educaiton Institute of Education Sciences, 2011). Public schools in the state of Louisiana are facing policy changes. Louisiana’s governor has gained major attention by educators who are rejecting the proposal to inundate LDOE with swift policy changes. Teachers are protesting the proposal of the governor’s House Bills 974 and 976 that bring major changes to public education (NEA, 2011). Policy changes are not the only issues that have affected Louisiana public schools. Financial hardships have been exhibited across many of the state’s school districts in the past years (LDOE, 2012).
Districts have endured budget cuts that forced a reduction in workforce and departmental budgets. Since 2005, Louisiana’s per pupil rate stayed a consistent $3696 (LDOE, 2012). Among Louisiana’s school districts that are above the state projection is St. Mary Parish which reports a $10,717 per pupil rate in 2010 (LDOE, 2012). The effects of inflation upon a shrinking educational budget are a negative factor to consider in projections (Brimley, 2007).
Education is big business in the United States (Brimley, 2007). The dollar cost of education continues to rise. Local school districts rely on taxation from various community spending sources to sustain general budget allocations (Brimley, 2007). A major source of revenue for local districts is property tax. Louisiana 2010 Census reports 1.7 million households with an average annual income of $42 thousand (LDOE, 2012). From 2009, a growth of 4300 new homes were reported statewide (LDOE, 2012). Louisiana has 69 school districts (LDOE, 2012). The proportion of new homes to school districts reveals that little economic gain from property taxes would be anticipated for each district. Unless a specific district happens to be an outlier in the data trend, most districts show very little growth.
The current demographics for Louisiana have shifted positively in the 2011 financial reports. Louisiana’s $87 million budget reports a 37% raise in per pupil allocation funds for the 2012 school year (LDOE, 2012). Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) reports a $776 million increase in state funding. State per pupil cost increased from the 2005 rate of $3696 to $5053 (LDOE, 2012). In one school district, a reduction in per pupil expenditure existed between 2008- 2010 from $10,717 to $10,290 (LDOE, 2012). This district had very little growth during the projected period. This particular district reported $1.35 million deficit in the 2010- 2011 school year (Stoute, 2011). The district’s CFO reported that the board set aside funds over the years in case of a deficit in later years which saved the district from experiencing the financial crunch that the other districts faced (Stoute, 2011). It was noted by the CFO that the reduction in the district student count also caused a loss in funding (Stoute, 2011).
Brimley, V. (2007). Financing education in a climate of change (10 ed.). Allyn and Beacon Inc.
Dewey, J. (1997). Experience and education. Free Press.
LDOE. (2012, February). Annual financial and statistical report 2009-2010. Retrieved February 2012, from www.louisianaschools.net
NEA. (2011). NEA Home. Retrieved September 14, 2011, from National Education Association: www.nea.org
Stoute, G. (2011, July 7). School board gets overview of $81 million budget. St.Mary Now.com .
U.S. Department of Educaiton Institute of Education Sciences. (2011). National center for education statistics. Retrieved July 9, 2011, from NCES Site Index: http://nces.ed.gov