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Sunday, March 09, 2014

What a difference a decade makes

How had I forgotten that the per-student funding idea proposed by Funds for Learning and supported by Commissioner Pai was part of the big 2005 NPRM (the subject of the very first post on this blog), where it was called "formulaic funding"?  Back then, it seemed like the proposal might get somewhere, because the Chairman was in favor, but like most of the ideas in that NPRM, it never went anywhere.

One big shift since 2005: the position of the Council of Great City Schools.  The current per-student funding idea was their initiative.  But back in 2005, they were opposed to it.  What happened in the meantime to change their minds?  The Priority Two gravy train ran out of steam.  Once the Great City Schools couldn't count on Great Piles of P2 Funding, they realized that per-student was to their advantage.  City schools tend to have fiber running by them already, and mileage charges are not an issue, so P1 costs are lower.  Also, larger districts can take advantage of economies of scale, further lowering relative P1 costs.  So suddenly, if funding is based on cost, instead of getting the lion's share of funding, the big city schools will get a smaller share (on a per-student basis) than other applicants.  Now that per-student funding is in their interest, the arguments they made in 2005 about complexity and inequity don't seem so important, I guess.

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