understanding school funding

Compulsory attendance laws have created the funding structure of our public schools and that is what is discussed in this post, REGION: Absent kids cost schools millions in funding:
"The attendance-based funding formula puts a bounty on the heads of students, forcing schools to meticulously track their absences ---- placing dollar amounts next to their names. Number 114 is one of 357 students on a list of the chronically absent at Lincoln High. A student is considered chronically absent if he or she misses 10 percent or more of the 180-day school year."

"Certainly when the state of California changed its financing of public education from enrollment to average daily attendance, it had an adverse impact on school districts, including ours," said Fallbrook Union High School District Superintendent Dale Mitchell. "That presents a problem for us."

Schools used to be paid for excused absences, which included sick days if students had a parent or doctor's note. But the law changed because the existing formula "encourages schools to accept excuses and discourages them from investigating possibly fraudulent excuses," according to an Assembly Committee on Education hearing in 1998, when the law was passed.
stealth privatization
The next post discusses inequities that have been created in the funding system (in CA) whereby wealthy districts keep their excess funds. This creeping privatization is rarely discussed but wealthy districts are now allowed in some places to maintain their so-called public schools that are enriched by extra funds. State Superintendent Says Unequal Funding Could Lead to Lawsuit « Watchdog Institute:   
"In a 1968 case, Serrano v. Priest, the California Supreme Court ordered the state to address the gap in funding between schools in poor neighborhoods and those in wealthy communities, which could raise more money from property taxes. 
In an effort to close that education funding gap, the state introduced revenue limits in 1972, which put a ceiling on how much money schools could raise. 
Then, the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978 caused property tax revenues to drop. Most neighborhoods didn’t – and still don’t – raise enough money in local property taxes to reach their school revenue limit. So, the state has made up the difference. 
But, rising property values and state cuts to education funding have once again created a widening gap between rich and poor districts.
“Some districts, very few, about 124 or so in 2009-2010, have more than enough property taxes to meet their entitlement,” said Margaret Weston, an analyst with the Public Policy Institute of California. “They used to be called basic aid, and now we tend to call them excess tax districts.”
The excess tax districts get to keep the extra tax revenue and can spend it on students.
 
Revenue limit funds typically make up about 70 percent of a district’s funding. The rest comes from a mix of categorical funds, grants and stimulus funds.At least eight excess tax districts districts statewide – two of which are located in San Diego – more than doubled their revenue limit spending per pupil through excess revenues. Rancho Santa Fe received an additional $5,871per student over the $4,963 state-determined revenue limit, and Solana Beach brought in $5,080 per student more than its $4,965 revenue limit. 
Carmel Unified in Monterey County topped the list with an additional $13,094 per student over the $5,208 revenue limit."
attendance-based funding makes a public/private hybrid
The foundation of schools wound up being based on compulsory attendance and that is a fundamental problem and design flaw that I have blogged about for the past two years. The way forward is to fund a strong system in itself, not tied to attendance, and expand services which can only be done by allowing the crucial customization that would enable families and communities to focus on what they need. That would help us increase the real education level and also make kids and families more productive and happy. It would be a structural shift to a fully public, voluntary, citizen-centered social service.

Otherwise the power politics of groups will fracture funding and strengthen the authoritarian tendencies of a bureaucracy whose scale has made it increasingly anti-child and abusive to families. Families do not need policing: their base incentives are the most closely aligned with the child than anyone else's. Empowering families will help schools find new ways to more forward and raise the intelligence and education of everyone.

I touched on aspects of these funding inequalities and so-called theft of education crimes in two previous posts:

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