New Haven’s Board of Education is reworking its fund-allocation model to make resource distribution more equitable between schools.
The nine-person school funding committee tasked with improving the model — whose members include New Haven Public Schools Chief Financial Officer Victor De La Paz, three principals from around the district, New Haven Federation of Teachers Vice President Tom Burns and two NHPS parents — aims to propose an alternate funding model to Superintendent Garth Harries by Nov. 25 so it can be incorporated into next year’s budget.
The new system will make funding weighted so that schools which have more students with special learning needs — including students with disabilities and those learning English as a second language — receive more funding.
“The district is trying to define a new approach in a collaborative way,” said David Rosenberg, a partner at Education Resource Strategies, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit that works to improve resource allocation in urban school systems.
A July 2014 ERS study found NHPS’ current funding model — which allocates funding by the size of the school and not the needs of the students — has led to a large spending disparity.
41 percent of NHPS schools receive per-student funding sums above or below $10,400 — the median amount of per-student funding across the district.
To ensure funding disparities reflect needs, the committee is considering a model that sets a standard student-teacher ratio for all schools in the district and allocates funding based on the number of teachers the school has. Then, the remaining funding that is available will be distributed to individual students according to their need, De La Paz said in an Oct. 22 meeting.
Engineering and Science University Magnet School parent Jill Kelly, who sits on the school funding committee, said the proposed hybrid model will ensure basic needs, such as a baseline teacher-student ratio, are met.
Kelley said the level of student funding, which would be set at a rate between $300 and $500 a year, is appropriate because it is not so high that a student’s choice to move schools would drastically impact a school’s budget.
But she acknowledged many unanswered questions persist around the new model, including how student-teacher ratios and funding at individual schools would change.
“It’s all still a work in progress,” she said.
Roughly $9.4 million will be allocated as student funding across the school district.