Letter: Base school funding on an average


Election season is coming up, and school funding will rightly be a major issue. Adjusting to a five year moving average on enrollment numbers would stabilize school funding and disincentivize wasteful district spending.

There are many aspects to school funding that cannot be explained in short, but this one adjustment would help equalize school financing options. Right now school finance is too much a sales pitch when it should be a commitment to satisfaction.

Schools, as with any other finance system, need a level of predictability creating stabilization through good management. Under Proposal A, schools receive an allowance per student enrolled. There are details in how money is paid out to schools, but essentially schools are forced to rely on October numbers to start the school year. When Proposal A was implemented, school choice, as it exists now, was not an option. This means, for the most part before school choice, schools could predict with relative assuredness their enrollment numbers allowing them to predict their per student allowance.

Prediction allows for efficiency in schools. For instance, how many teachers a school will need? If the count is unpredictable, then the hiring of teachers may not take place until after the school year starts or schools may have an excess of teachers straining the finances.

But school of choice has destabilized the prediction of enrollment preventing districts from making long-term decisions for progressive stability. This flux impacts some districts more than others. Some districts have seen enrollment rise while others witness a fall. It seems the only way for many districts to stabilize is to constantly seek more students.

When funding is stabilized, schools may find more efficient ways to allocate resources. Anytime there are flyers, newspaper, radio, TV, or billboard advertisements, that’s money that’s not going to students.

Adjusting to a moving enrollment average for per student funding would give schools more predictability in their finances, and help them cut back on wasteful spending. This really puts the power in parents hands to choose rather than incentivizing a school district sales pitch.

Paul Ruth

English teacher, Eastpointe High School