The 2014 South Carolina Supreme Court decision in Abbeville County School District, et al. v. The State of South Carolina found the state’s “educational funding scheme is a fractured formula denying students… the constitutionally required opportunity” to education. This fractured formula fails students for several reasons:
- Expenditures are not directly tied to actual student costs.
- Revenue Streams are unstable and unpredictable, causing significant year- over-year variation in funding.
- Overly-complex funding formulas preclude transparency and disguise inefficiency.
- The state/local cost-sharing formula does not effectively promote equity across districts.
Our recommended K-12 Finance Model is a ‘back-to-basics’ model that embodies the essential elements of a stable, transparent and equitable system. It contains three basic components.
Re-inventing the K-12 education funding formula is a significant effort which will require a shift in the finance and accounting methods for both the state and local districts.
- Require a phase-in period of 5 to 8 years smooth transition with clear, predictable estimates of budget changes.
- Districts that stand to lose state funding will be held harmless (provided funds to make up for the losses) during phase-in.
- Require annual review of data to optimize, prevent formula from becoming obsolete, and ensure appropriate use of funds.