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Public school districts and public charter schools are funded using a combination of local, state, and federal funding.
Generally, the responsibility to provide the bulk of school funding falls to the state and to local communities; federal funding across the United States makes up less than 10% of total school funding. The dollars contributed by the federal government are given through federal agencies such as the Department of Education, the Department of Health and Human Services, or the Department of Agriculture to fund their federal programs.
Local funding comes more directly from the surrounding community, and is a bulk sum given to the district that is taken mainly from property taxes.
The money available for state funding comes from general state revenues (income taxes, sales tax, etc.), gaming, lottery, and other miscellaneous taxes. The funds are distributed based on a funding formula which takes a few district factors into account. The formula is of particular interest because it aims to bring “equity and adequacy” into school funding by helping bridge the funding gap between districts with and without a lot of local funding.
This interactive map is sorted by expenditure amounts. The darker the color, the more money is being spent per pupil.
As a whole, it is a student based formula, meaning that schools are funded per student. A baseline cost of educating a student with no special needs or services is established, then multipliers are used to give districts more money to reflect the additional cost of educating certain categories of students. In Missouri these categories are students who receive Free or Reduced Lunch (FRL), Individualized Education Plans (IEP), or are categorized as English Language Proficient (ELP).
The formula itself is as follows:
Weighted Average Daily Attendance x State Adequacy Target x Dollar Value Modifier – Local Effort = State Support
Unlike local funding, state funding is difficult to understand because of all the variables taken into account. The baseline is called the State Adequacy Target (SAT) and the multipliers are applied to the Weighted Average Daily Attendance (WADA). Additional factors such as Dollar Value Modifier (DVM) and Local Effort are also taken into account to determine total state funding for a district.
The State Adequacy Target is the baseline amount given to each district per student, and is a measure of the average spending per student in schools that meet state standards (known as the Performance Districts). It is supposed to be recalculated every other year, but due to deficits in the state budget, the SAT has been fixed at $6131 as of 2012 (the calculated SAT for the 2014 school year was $6716).
The adjusted number of students the school serves based on multipliers and attendance is the Weighted Average Daily Attendance. First, the Average Daily Attendance (ADA) is calculated with data from the school year and from summer school (if applicable). If a student attends all the hours of school possible, he or she will be funded as one student. The ratio of hours attended to hours possible is calculated for every student and then added to yield the ADA (a measure of how many students attended school by the number of hours spent in school). The ADA is used to determine whether schools will receive additional funding for FRL, IEP, or ELP students. If the adjusted number of students on FRL, IEP, or ELP programs in the district (calculated by multiplying the average percentage of students on a particular program in the Performance Districts by the district’s ADA) is higher than the actual number in the district, every student above the adjusted number will be weighted as additional students for funding per student purposes. The total number of weighted students a district serves is the WADA.
The DVM factor adjusts funding based on the value of a dollar in a specific area. It will increase funding in areas where the cost of living is especially high, but will not take money away from districts with lower costs of living. It is calculated by comparing the regional wage ratio for the district (the average salary in the area) with the state median wage per job. This variable operates under the assumption that an area with higher incomes will have proportionally higher costs of living.
Local Effort is a measure of how much money a district receives from local taxes and from other sources. The local tax revenue is calculated by multiplying the assessed property values by the property tax levy (3.43%, as suggested by the state). Collector and assessor fees are subtracted from the number to give the total local effort. This number is deducted from the product of the other three variables. Therefore, districts with more affluent populations (and thus higher property taxes) receive less state funding. Other things can also contribute to the total for local effort. Proposition C, for example, is a statewide sales tax that is collected and redistributed to districts based on WADA. 50% of the Prop C money that goes to a district is counted as local effort.
This interactive map is sorted by the amount of state dollars a school district receives. The darker the color, the more state dollars make up a district’s budget.
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