Could Georgia Education Funding Reform Impact Achievement?

December 17th, 2015 by 1 Comment

The very first recommendation in the final report from the Georgia Education Reform Commission was this: Develop a student-based funding formula.

What does this mean? According to education experts from the Reason Foundation, under a student-based budget, “Actual dollars follow students to the school level to be spent flexibly by school leaders.” In addition to enhancing equity and transparency, research has shown this can enhance student achievement.

The Reason Foundation’s Director of Education, Lisa Snell, speaking at a school finance forum hosted by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, noted a study that found, “holding all else constant, a school district that allocated 50 percent of its FY2011 budget to weighted student formula, where money follows the student, is nearly 10 times more likely to close achievement gaps than a district that only allocated 20 percent of its FY2011 budget to weighted student formula.”

Examining how much money is currently spent at the district level across the state highlights the extent of the opportunity to shift a portion of this funding to the school level.

Below are FY2014 operating expenditures for school systems across the state. This is reported to the State Department of Education by each school system. Each dollar of spending is assigned to a central office function or a school, based on where those funds were spent. While it may not mean the school controlled the spending just because money was spent at the school building level, this is the best data we have.

System Students Total Operating Spending Per Student  Central Office Spending Per Student  Rank
Atlanta Public Schools 49,023 $13,630 $4,932 1
Hancock County 936 $12,160 $2,506          2
Rabun County 2,177 $11,606 $2,276          3
Thomasville City 2,821 $9,293 $2,240          4
White County 3,862 $9,509 $2,120          5
Dublin City 2,460 $9,774 $2,054          6
Twiggs County 873 $11,068 $1,984          7
Warren County 629 $10,563 $1,924          8
Clay County 301 $12,095 $1,848          9
Fulton County 93,114 $9,674 $1,778       10
Social Circle City 1,639 $8,638 $1,704       11
Liberty County 9,752 $8,804 $1,626       12
Calhoun County 637 $10,697 $1,624       13
Rockdale County 15,731 $8,439 $1,597       14
Spalding County 10,131 $8,501 $1,518       15
Stewart County 500 $11,401 $1,494       16
Johnson County 1,107 $8,489 $1,490       17
Taliaferro County 187 $15,400 $1,473       18
Miller County 1,038 $9,018 $1,461       19
Monroe County 3,820 $9,632 $1,459       20
Quitman County 309 $13,362 $1,381       21
Richmond County 30,733 $8,513 $1,359       22
Turner County 1,385 $9,959 $1,338       23
Hall County 26,638 $7,833 $1,314       24
Floyd County 9,819 $9,042 $1,290       25
Burke County 4,080 $11,946 $1,240       26
Lee County 6,108 $7,408 $1,236       27
Decatur City 3,975 $11,486 $1,220       28
Pulaski County 1,309 $9,340 $1,200       29
Baker County 319 $14,016 $1,188       30
Pelham City 1,419 $8,691 $1,184       31
Marion County 1,305 $8,765 $1,169       32
Putnam County 2,684 $10,294 $1,166       33
Talbot County 502 $11,289 $1,148       34
Chatham County 35,890 $9,457 $1,143       35
Randolph County 971 $10,044 $1,118       36
Charlton County 1,574 $8,587 $1,099       37
Webster County 394 $10,126 $1,099       38
McIntosh County 1,571 $9,148 $1,097       39
Peach County 3,744 $8,117 $1,094       40
Polk County 7,365 $7,608 $1,087       41
Macon County 1,541 $10,209 $1,078       42
Echols County 781 $9,199 $1,065       43
Buford City 3,975 $9,223 $1,020       44
Terrell County 1,399 $9,729 $1,016       45
Wilkes County 1,565 $10,646 $1,014       46
Brooks County 2,098 $9,756 $1,012       47
Coffee County 7,386 $8,645 $988       48
Wheeler County 975 $9,470 $987       49
Bibb County 23,399 $8,721 $980       50
Lanier County 1,683 $8,839 $972       51
Clayton County 51,413 $7,288 $971       52
Douglas County 25,410 $8,270 $962       53
Clinch County 1,319 $9,162 $953       54
Cherokee County 39,315 $7,787 $948       55
Treutlen County 1,120 $7,508 $948       56
Meriwether County 2,912 $9,671 $939       57
Evans County 1,742 $8,464 $918       58
Marietta City 8,833 $9,516 $918       59
Sumter County 4,634 $9,237 $917       60
Towns County 1,071 $10,830 $912       61
Glascock County 593 $9,192 $911       62
Telfair County 1,613 $8,653 $899       63
Bartow County 13,729 $8,567 $896       64
Jenkins County 1,294 $10,098 $890       65
Effingham County 10,973 $7,950 $889       66
Newton County 18,844 $7,905 $881       67
Hart County 3,425 $8,375 $880       68
Oglethorpe County 2,225 $9,296 $873       69
Chattahoochee County 906 $9,611 $872       70
McDuffie County 4,193 $8,277 $871       71
Madison County 4,650 $9,260 $846       72
Jones County 5,246 $8,668 $842       73
Screven County 2,261 $8,749 $840       74
Ware County 5,681 $9,003 $836       75
Mitchell County 2,321 $9,871 $826       76
Calhoun City 3,660 $7,758 $825       77
Harris County 4,964 $8,334 $817       78
Emanuel County 4,097 $8,138 $813       79
Gwinnett County 168,225 $7,951 $813       80
Commerce City 1,466 $8,178 $812       81
Whitfield County 12,963 $8,315 $809       82
Butts County 3,359 $7,915 $786       83
Jefferson City 2,944 $6,631 $783       84
Gainesville City 7,463 $8,354 $782       85
Pike County 3,312 $7,303 $778       86
Dalton City 7,369 $8,950 $770       87
Pickens County 4,314 $9,435 $765       88
Appling County 3,389 $8,949 $761       89
Walker County 8,864 $8,500 $756       90
Lamar County 2,483 $8,858 $754       91
Bremen City 2,072 $8,081 $739       92
Fayette County 19,908 $8,188 $738       93
Trion City 1,312 $8,193 $735       94
Wilcox County 1,150 $9,926 $730       95
Dawson County 3,472 $9,150 $723       96
Habersham County 6,775 $8,935 $721       97
Stephens County 3,904 $9,401 $709       98
Lincoln County 1,130 $9,439 $705       99
Dooly County 1,331 $9,093 $703     100
Crisp County 3,992 $8,958 $703     101
Haralson County 3,384 $9,134 $699     102
Worth County 3,244 $8,319 $680     103
Jasper County 2,184 $8,027 $678     104
Henry County 40,495 $7,628 $678     105
Cartersville City 4,044 $8,695 $671     106
Candler County 2,029 $8,481 $668     107
Irwin County 1,688 $8,713 $666     108
Ben Hill County 3,105 $8,660 $665     109
Chickamauga City 1,380 $6,779 $663     110
Schley County 1,307 $7,488 $663     111
Thomas County 5,261 $7,989 $663     112
Tattnall County 3,460 $8,434 $656     113
Jackson County 7,078 $8,632 $642     114
Barrow County 12,785 $7,886 $638     115
Walton County 13,246 $7,868 $624     116
Long County 2,983 $7,588 $619     117
DeKalb County 96,563 $8,722 $619     118
Bacon County 1,990 $8,303 $618     119
Grady County 4,400 $7,748 $618     120
Atkinson County 1,646 $8,773 $614     121
Dade County 2,091 $8,558 $610     122
Lumpkin County 3,771 $8,527 $609     123
Early County 2,090 $9,385 $603     124
Forsyth County 40,414 $7,342 $598     125
Toombs County 2,885 $8,352 $596     126
Dodge County 3,144 $8,048 $595     127
Rome City 5,836 $8,249 $591     128
Catoosa County 10,616 $8,652 $582     129
Thomaston-Upson County 4,212 $8,508 $577     130
Greene County 2,117 $13,631 $577     131
Berrien County 3,089 $8,121 $572     132
Gilmer County 4,138 $8,839 $570     133
Paulding County 28,274 $7,628 $566     134
Fannin County 2,940 $10,153 $565     135
Oconee County 6,728 $8,180 $563     136
Taylor County 1,432 $8,619 $563     137
Baldwin County 5,577 $7,642 $560     138
Dougherty County 15,330 $9,230 $556     139
Tift County 7,537 $8,152 $547     140
Jefferson County 2,653 $9,217 $545     141
Franklin County 3,631 $7,800 $519     142
Murray County 7,286 $7,517 $517     143
Banks County 2,846 $8,618 $517     144
Heard County 1,919 $9,152 $517     145
Elbert County 2,907 $9,303 $516     146
Morgan County 3,187 $8,565 $514     147
Colquitt County 9,018 $8,379 $512     148
Glynn County 12,272 $9,150 $506     149
Lowndes County 10,103 $7,765 $501     150
Camden County 8,914 $8,212 $500     151
Brantley County 3,327 $8,298 $498     152
Seminole County 1,604 $8,349 $494     153
Union County 2,671 $9,517 $489     154
Bleckley County 2,261 $8,312 $486     155
Montgomery County 1,518 $6,069 $477     156
Coweta County 21,891 $7,978 $476     157
Vidalia City 2,505 $7,294 $474     158
Crawford County 1,744 $8,194 $450     159
Gordon County 6,398 $8,257 $437     160
Wilkinson County 1,459 $11,005 $420     161
Houston County 26,880 $8,569 $413     162
Valdosta City 7,796 $7,896 $381     163
Decatur County 5,126 $8,284 $370     164
Carrollton City 4,705 $8,217 $365     165
Bryan County 7,987 $6,765 $362     166
Laurens County 6,368 $7,624 $343     167
Wayne County 5,140 $8,178 $335     168
Jeff Davis County 2,912 $7,596 $319     169
Carroll County 14,089 $7,883 $317     170
Bulloch County 9,573 $8,026 $310     171
Chattooga County 2,717 $8,152 $288     172
Cobb County 109,202 $8,069 $286     173
Clarke County 12,019 $10,955 $277     174
Washington County 3,014 $9,009 $259     175
Cook County 3,127 $7,542 $143     176
Pierce County 3,587 $7,997 $131     177
Columbia County 24,554 $7,364 $55     178
Troup County 12,140 $8,520 $38     179
Muscogee County 30,952 $9,211 $19     180

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To have an organization dedicated to the study of the problems that face Georgia in a bipartisan way….is absolutely one of the finest things that’s happened to our state.

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