19 September 2007

School Equity Within District?

I have wondered about inequality between schools within a school district. An article in the Columbus Dispatch says a politician is suing to make the Columbus School District spend equally at different schools:

...The district spends thousands less per student at some of its schools, the suit says, and that violates the Ohio Constitution's guarantee of "thorough and efficient" funding for public education.

... School board members... called the lawsuit a political stunt.
Boyd said per-student spending takes teacher salaries into account, so building-to-building numbers are skewed by transfers of higher-paid, more-experienced teachers to better-performing schools. Board members have discussed an incentive program to keep those teachers in poorer schools, he said.
Todd offered an example yesterday. At Winterset Elementary School on the Northwest Side, the district spent $12,507 per student last year, he said. At Liberty Elementary School on the Far East Side, the district spent $7,779 per student.

Winterset was rated "effective" on the latest state report card; Liberty is on academic watch.

"We have to change what's happening in Columbus Public Schools today," said Todd, who also has called for a mayoral takeover of the district in his campaign against incumbent Democrat Michael B. Coleman.

My sister is a Cincinnati Public School teacher. The more years she teaches, the higher her salary goes. But also, she can apply for positions in better schools within the district. A better school not only attracts better students, but also better teachers. The problem is that these more experienced teachers also get paid more, so that even with the same teacher/student ratio, the expenses can be much more at the better school.

Equality could be reached by funding per student, and and letting the principal decide how to budget.

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