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ERIC Number: ED406738
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1997
Reference Count: 0
School Finance: State Efforts To Reduce Funding Gaps between Poor and Wealthy Districts. Report to Congressional Requesters.
General Accounting Office, Washington, DC. Health, Education, and Human Services Div.
States have used a variety of strategies to educate poor students and help poor school districts adequately fund the needs of their students. This General Accounting Office report examines: (1) the size of the gap in total (state and local combined) funding between poor and wealthy districts for each state; (2) the key factors that affect the size of states' funding gaps; and (3) the effect of states' school finance policies on the funding gap. The study used school year 1991-92 district-level data to analyze each state except Hawaii and contacted state education officials to determine changes since that year. The study used standard school-finance measures and developed a new equity measure--implicit foundation level--that accounts for the effects of state policies on the funding levels of school districts. The implicit foundation level estimates the minimum total funding per pupil that districts in a state could finance if they were to make the same local tax effort. The measure helps to explain the structural forces that drive the inequities between wealthy and poor districts. The study also accounts for geographic differences in education costs and student need among districts, and uses income-per-pupil to measure districts' ability to raise education revenues. On average, wealthy school districts had about 24 percent more total funding per weighted pupil than poor districts. The data showed wide variations in the implicit foundation level that state school-finance policies supported in school year 1991-92; the national average for that year was $3,134 per weighted pupil. The implicit foundation levels of almost all states were less than their state average funding levels. Twenty-five states reported making little or no changes in their targeting of poor districts or state share between 1991-92 and 1995-96. Two tables and five figures are included. Appendices contain formulas for fiscal neutrality, implicit foundation levels, equalization efforts, and equity measures; individual profiles for 49 states; a summary of state survey results; a list of GAO contacts and staff acknowledgments; and a glossary. (LMI)
Descriptors: Educational Equity (Finance), Educational Finance, Elementary Secondary Education, Equalization Aid, Expenditure per Student, Finance Reform, Fiscal Capacity, Fiscal Neutrality, School District Wealth, School Funds, School Support, State Aid, Tables (Data)
U.S. General Accounting Office, P.O. Box 6015, Gaithersburg, MD 20884-6015 (first copy free; $2 each additional copy).
Publication Type: Numerical/Quantitative Data; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: General Accounting Office, Washington, DC. Health, Education, and Human Services Div.