2 Center for American Progress | Parallel Lives, Different Outcomes
Based on our in-deph look a win disrics and our subsequen analysis o he daa, we came away wih he ollowing ﬁndings:•
When it comes to education, spending does not always equal results.
Our ﬁndings sugges haa leas when i comes o mah and reading scoresmoney is no always spen in ways ha boos hose oucomes, even when holding demographics consan. O he more han 400 win disrics sudied, we ound he higher-spending win spen on average $1,600 more per suden o educae similar groups o sudens o similar achievemen levels.
o pu i more simply, some o he disrics were geting a bigger bang or heir educaion buck han ohers. We also ound a number o disrics ha spen equal amouns o money, had he same demo-graphics, bu ended up wih diﬀeren levels o suden achievemen. Tis again sug-gesed signiﬁcan diﬀerences in produciviy among disrics. •
There are significant funding inequities between demographically similar districts.
Disrics rely heavily on local ﬁnancial resources and ha means ha unding is ofen inequiable. In he Unied Saes, a disric’s schools are primarily unded hrough axes on local propery values, which have a lo o do wih a communiy’s aﬄuence. Wihin each se o wins, one disric ypically colleced on average more han $1,000 more per suden rom local resources, primarily propery axes. Saes and he ederal governmen generally do no ﬁll his unding gap, and as a resul, some disrics have ar ewer resources han ohers, even hough hey serve similar suden populaions. •
Districts have limited control over their own expenditures.
Disrics have litle auhoriy when i comes o exacly how unds will be spen, which signiﬁcanly inﬂuences how hese disrics canor cannoboos produciviy. As William Crocket, superinenden o Mound Bayou Public Schools, a small rural disric in Mississippi, pu i: “We don’ have ha ﬂexibiliy … I’s kind o a simple budgeary hing ha we have o do. We don’ have ha ﬂexibiliy o say we’ll do his or we can do his and i’ll save a whole bunch o money.” Wha explains his lack o spending ﬂexibiliy? Firs, here are srings atached o sae and ederal grans, and disrics mus regularly demonsrae ha hey have indeed spen money on allowable expenses. Second, mos o disrics’ budges are allocaed o employee salaries and beneﬁs. Abou 60 percen o disrics’ budges are commited o insrucional coss, which are primarily educaors’ salaries. Ta does no leave much room or disric leaders o inves heir ﬁnancial resources in more producive ways.