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Education Finance Reform Committee Hears From Expert On Weighted Student Funding Models

On Wednesday, the Joint Legislative Task Force on Education Finance Reform met to hear from Dr. Marguerite Roza, a nationally known expert on school finance reform efforts. She is the Director of the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University and Senior Research Affiliate at the Center on Reinventing Public Education, University of Washington Bothell.

The NC task force was formed to create a new school funding model, as one is typically generated every 20 to 30 years. Co-Chair Rep. Craig Horn (R-Union) stated, “It is critical that we do a better job of allocating available funds to K-12 education in this state.”

Dr. Roza highlighted components of NC’s current funding model and compared it to those of California, Texas, Colorado and Florida.

“NC is one of a handful of states left in the resource-based model,” Roza said. She suggested that NC’s model is outdated and too complicated, as it allocates a number of teacher positions based on the number of students enrolled, or the Average Daily Membership (ADM), and those allocations pay teachers. Roza suggested that NC move to a “student-based” model, which would fund the student, rather than programs, faculty, etc. She made the following recommendations:

  • Funding schools by placing a dollar amount on each student entering the school.
  • Divide the state’s educational funding among the average amount of students to generate the amount to allocate to each student.
  • Follow California’s model and give the school a set amount per student and then give the school or district full autonomy on how to spend the money (technology, staffing teachers, classroom supplies, class size limits, programs, etc.)

Sen. Jerry Tillman (R-Randolph) thanked Dr. Roza for advocating for the flexibility he has been encouraging “his entire legislative life.” However, other committee members asked questions highlighting some concerns with her recommendations and showing that NC’s system already funds the student on an ADM basis and that our state constitution requires collaboration between school boards, county commissioners, and LEAs to ensure a fair funding system.

Rep. Horn stated that this was the committee’s last meeting before the short session in May, and it will not make any proposals to the General Assembly at this time.

“We are going to come back after the short session and start putting pencil to paper,” he said.

Co-Chair Sen. Michael Lee (R-New Hanover) also stated that the committee needs to do more research and hear from other presenters before drafting legislation. To view Wednesday’s presentation, click here.

Jacqueline Wyatt for NCASA