Changes in Individual School Budgets in FY17
The funds allocated to an individual school in the DC Public Schools (DCPS) in a given year come from a variety of sources, local and federal.
For the 2016-2017 school year, the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula (UPSFF) received a 2 percent inflation adjustment and provides $9,682 local dollars per student for general education and additional increments for special education, English language learner and at-risk students.
Because these latter increments are targeted to students with specific needs, they should not be repurposed by the school.
Code for DC created this interactive graphic to show how both general education and overall funding were allocated by DCPS across schools and how those allocations changed between the current school year (2015-16) and proposed budgets (2016-17).
Controls above the chart will filter the schools shown by ward or by level (elementary/middle/high/education campus). Selecting a school will reveal detailed information on the school's current (2015-2016) and proposed (2016-2017) funding sources.
- General Education Funds
- Enrollment-Based Funds
While general education dollars in the District are allocated to DCPS based on the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula (UPSFF), the UPSFF does not govern how general education dollars are allocated by DCPS to our neighborhood public schools. Instead, DCPS allocates operating dollars according to the Comprehensive Staffing Model (CSM), in which each school is allocated funds to cover a certain set of required positions (e.g., principal, teachers, instructional coaches and maintenance) and flexible positions. While the general education funding a school receives increases with enrollment, it declines on a per-student basis. For example, at school with a high enrollment, the cost of the Principal, one full-time equivalent (FTE) at $167,314, is spread over many students, while at a lower-enrollment school it is spread over fewer. Similarly, maintenance and operation costs are driven by the building itself, not the number of students in the building. Even when funding does increase with enrollment, it does not increase smoothly: an elementary school with fewer than 300 pupils receives 0.5 FTE for music instruction, while an elementary school with between 300 and 500 pupils receives a full FTE; an elementary school with more than 500 pupils receives 1.5 FTE.
- Specialty Funds
Some schools within DCPS receive “non-formula funds,” or specialty funds that promote the unique goals of their program. For example the Duke Ellington School for the Arts uses its non-formula funds to sustain a dual-curriculum that provides general studies and arts-intensive classes. Non-formula funds are included in the initial school budget allocations for these programs.
- Per-Pupil Funding Minimum (PPFM)
The cost of maintaining lower-enrollment schools often falls disproportionately on our larger-enrollment schools. The cost is reflected in the fact that our largest schools spend the least per student. Without adjustment, these larger schools risk funding while they are gaining in their overall enrollment. To avoid this DCPS generally supports a minimum funding level of $9,000 per student and reinvests funds to schools if they would otherwise fall below that threshold.
- Stabilization Funds
The Fair Student Funding and School Based Budgeting Act of 2013 provided legislation that no school could lose more than 5% of its budget between fiscal years. If a school's allocation would mean it would lose more than 5% of its budget between FY16 and FY17 DCPS allocates additional stabilization funds. Stabilization does not necessarily apply when a major school configuration occurs (for example: a school goes from an education campus to elementary school).
- Non-General Education Funds
- Special Education Funds
Staffing for the special education student population is determined by a review of all current Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). Staffing for these needs is guided by the Office of Specialized Instruction (OSI) staffing ratios. Funds are then allocated according to the given ratios. Staffing ratios for specific programs can be found in the FY17 Budget Guide. Schools are not able to repurpose funds designed to support special education needs.
- English Language Learner Funds
English Language Learner (ELL) student population support needs are determined by a review of the number of ELL students currently enrolled and their classification (Level I through Level IV). Staffing for ELL students is guided by the Language Acquisition Division (LAD) staffing ratios. Funds are then allocated according to the given ratios. For example, schools that have 22 students between Level I and Level IV in kindergarten through grade 8 will receive funds for one full-time Bilingual/ELL Teacher. Schools are not able to repurpose funds designed to support ELL needs.
- At-Risk Funds
The at-risk allocation is based on the cumulative students that are at-risk of academic failure. The current definition for at-risk is based on students who are homeless, in the District's foster care system, qualify for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or high school students that are one year older, or more, than the expected age for the grade in which the student is enrolled. According to DC law, at-risk funds are supposed to follow the student to his or her school, with school leaders determining how best to use these additional resources.
- Federal Title Funds
The number of students at a school eligible for Free and Reduced Meals (FARM) has a direct impact on the amount of “Title funds” that the school receives in its initial budget allocation. “Title funds” refers to money provided by the U.S. Department of Education through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. These funds are divided into two categories: Title I and Title II. Title I funds provide support for students from low-income families and are subsequently tied to the successful submission of a completed Free and Reduced Meal (FARM) form. A small percentage of Title I funds are set aside to fund parent engagement initiatives at the school level. Title II funds are designed to support professional development for educators.
- ASP Funds
After-School Programs (ASP) are funded by Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) grants, parent co-payments, and local funds. Since TANF composes the majority of ASP funds, ASP programs are concentrated at Title I schools. All students may participate in schools with ASP and parents pay a co-payment to attend that is calculated based on a sliding scale.
- ECR Funds
Evening Credit Recovery money is only to be used for evening credit recovery and is determined by factors including, but not limited to: student need for credit recovery opportunities; promotion and graduation rates; FY16 ECR usage (i.e., the Capacity Index, which measures the percent of ECR seats the school filled each term); and enrollment projections.
DCPS's FY2017 Budget Development Guide provides a detailed review of the current budget process.
DCFPI publishes a School Finance Primer to help residents, parents and elected officials understand how DC schools are funded.
Sources and Notes
While individual school budgets account for roughly 85% of total educational expenditures in the DCPS school system, they do not cover everything. Central office, textbooks, athletics, special education related services other than psychologists and social workers, utilities, security, food service, and maintenance all fall outside individual school budgets and so are not shown above.
We are very grateful to Coalition members DC Fiscal Policy Institute, S.H.A.P.P.E. and the Dean of DCPS data — Mary Levy — for their work on this project, to DCPS for its cooperation throughout and to Code for DC for its extraordinary and generous work developing this tool.
Final Initial Allocations for FY15, DC Public Schools. File provided April 14, 2015
Final Initial Allocations for FY16, DC Public Schools. File provided April 8, 2015. This data has been adjusted to reflect additional allocations authorized by the DC Council. The Enrollment-Based Funds line for Ballou High School was increased by $300,000, and the same line for Wilson High School was increased by $600,000.
Initial Allocations for FY17, DC Public Schools. File provided February 24, 2016
Budgeted Enrollments for FY15 and FY16, DC Public Schools. File provided April 17, 2015
Budgeted Enrollments for FY16 and FY17, DC Public Schools. File provided March 2, 2016
Published April 2016 as a public domain work under the CC0 License.