A Critique of the 2010 Funding Formula

  1. The 2010 Formula’s “core instruction amount” of $8,922 is inadequate because it does not include, among other things, operating and “other” expense. These costs amount to approximately 20% of the typical school district’s budget. As a result, these costs must be paid for with 100% local funds, with none of the cost-sharing of Step 3 of the formula. In contrast, the 2007 Working Group report recommended a base amount of $10,600, which would be higher today after accounting for increases in the cost of living over the past eight years.
  1. The 2010 Formula’s single adjustment of 40% for children who qualify for free or reduced price lunch (FRPL) does not account for the extra needs of children learning the English language. The consultant justified this at the time by saying that the two populations (FRPL children and ELL children) are closely correlated. This is not the case in Rhode Island. For example, in 2012, the relative populations in selected communities was as follows:

 

CommunityFRPL %HispanicESL/Bilingual
Burrillville25%1%0%
Central Falls75%70%22%
Cranston26%13%4%
East Providence37%5%3%
Johnston31%9%2%
Newport50%16%3%
North Providence29%12%2%
Pawtucket67%30%10%
Providence82%59%15%
West Warwick40%9%2%
Woonsocket64%24%4%

For this reason, the 2007 Task Force developed a formula with an additional 0.2 weight for ELL students based on its consultant’s research. This weight was additive to a poverty weight of 0.25 for reduced price lunch and .5 for free lunch.

As shown on the Quadratic Mean Table, the quadratic mean transfers state aid from some of the State’s poorest communities to its wealthiest ones.

The following table highlights some of those transfers.

CommunityAdjusted
EWAV
Share %
(SSRC)
FY 2015
Actual Share(Including Quadratic Mean)
Quadratic
Mean % Impact
FY 2015
Formula Aid
Quadratic
Mean $
Impact
Charlestown0.018.718.71,708,6661,708,666
Jamestown0.08.68.6399,684399,684
Little Compton0.013.713.7401,928401,928
Narragansett0.016.916.91,987,1151,987,115
Newport0.046.746.710,368,28810,368,288
New Shoreham0.09.59.582,30882,308
Westerly0.028.728.77,620,0887,620,088
Shore Communities0.022,568,07722,568,077
Pawtucket85.883.3-2.574,103,107-2,223,983
Providence85.5882.5213,028,3396,051,941
West Warwick70.962.7-8.220,973,995-2,743,011
Woonsocket88.584.2-4.350,568,580-2,582,481

When it was proposed, the quadratic mean was presented as a way to help all communities afford the extra cost of educating children in poverty. In fact, however, the quadratic mean’s aid per student in poverty increases as the community’s wealth per student increases, as this chart shows:

ABCDEFGHIJ
CommunityAdjusted
AEWAV Per Student
AEWAV
Base Ratio
Adjusted
EWAV Share %
FY 2015
State Share %
Quadratic
Mean % Impact
FY 2015
Formula Aid
Quadratic
Mean
$ Impact
FY2015
FRPL
Quadratic
Mean State Aid Per Child
Charlestown2339.62.60.018.718.71,708,6661,708,6662506835
Jamestown3768.24.20.08.68.6399,684399,684675965
Little Compton6011.66.80.013.713.7401,928401,928586930
Narragansett4081.54.60.016.916.91,987,1151,987,1153136349
Newport2737.63.10.046.746.710,368,28810,368,28812128555
New Shoreham22083.824.80.09.59.582,30882,308165144
Westerly2018.42.30.028.728.77,620,0887,620,08811726502
Shore Communities3122.53.50.022,568,07722,568,07730887308
State888.91.0
Pawtucket265.20.385.883.3-2.574,103,107-2,223,9836555-339
Providence271.10.385.5882.5213,028,3396,051,94119791306
West Warwick544.30.670.962.7-8.220,973,995-2,743,0111816-1510
Woonsocket214.50.288.584.2-4.350,568,580-2,582,4814565-566