Fund Allocation Paper
Iowa is very unique when it comes to school finance. We use the single count date for the purpose of funding the state’s school districts. This is a count of the number of students in attendance on October 1st. This is when the federal government requires a count of the number of students eligible for the free and reduced price lunch program for purposes of Title I funding. An advantage to using the single count date is that it is reasonably easy and it also helps to cut down on administrative costs. There are many disadvantages to using this system. The single count date does not give districts any type of financial incentives for holding onto students after the count date. In most districts, enrollment will rise or fall from fall to spring, so if you have to use the single count date then districts could be more over-funded or under-funded. There are some students who don’t enroll even enroll in school until after October 1st, so this would cause districts to receive no funding for these students.
The top four things the public should know about school finance in Iowa is as follows:
The total amount of money a district has to spend is primarily driven by the number of children a district has. We can’t just raise as much money (or as little) as we want locally.
The tax rate of a district is largely driven by formula and only a small portion is impacted by the school board.
Certain funds have to be spent on certain things. This explains why a district might have the funds to pave a parking lot, even though they don’t have money to pay teachers.
Most of our expenses are staff: approximately 80% of a district’s general fun is made up of staff and benefits.
From the 1920s through the 1950s, most states used the average daily attendance (ADA) in state funding programs. Around the 1950s, there were several states that began to use average daily membership (ADM) in their financial plans. The key features to any finance strategy are (1) a measure of need, (2) a measure of capacity or wealth, (3) the amount of unit per need that constitutes the program, and (4) the uniform rate to be applied to the measure of capacity. When looking at how to get a good measure of need in a foundation program, it is important to be objective, not subject...