Per Student Funding

Examining how DCPS budgets will change under the 2020-21 budget proposal

What is this? | Definitions | Sources and Notes

School Name

2019-20 Enrollment

total enrollment

at-risk students

2020-21 Enrollment

total enrollment

at-risk students

2019-20 Budget

    2020-21 Budget

      View on LearnDC

      Changes in Individual School Budgets in FY21

      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.

      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 (2019-20) and proposed budgets for next year (2020-21). Given that this tool was created six years ago, it also includes data for the school years from 2014-15 through 2018-19.

      Controls above the chart filter the schools by ward or by level — elementary, middle, high, and education campus. Selecting a school will reveal more detailed information on the school's current (2019-20), proposed (2020-21) and prior year 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 dollars are allocated by DCPS to its public schools. Instead, DCPS allocates most of its 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, special education & ELL teachers, security), flexible positions, and non-personnel items. DCPS also allocates additional funds for special programs and purposes. While the general education funding a school receives increases with enrollment, it often declines on a per-student basis. For example, at a school with a high enrollment, the cost of the Principal, one full-time equivalent (FTE), is spread over many students, while at a lower-enrollment school it is spread over fewer. Similarly, maintenance and operation costs are driven primarily 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 400 pupils receives 3 FTEs for art, music, PE and world language instruction, while an elementary school with between 400 and 600 pupils receives 4.5 FTEs; and an elementary school with more than 600 pupils receives 5.5 FTEs. In addition many schools receive "Enrollment" funding outside the CSM formulas. The result is that per pupil allocations for general education vary widely from school to school with variable correlation to enrollment. On this web tool, where funding for general education functions is attributed to another funding source, for example, at-risk, that function is reflected as paid for by at risk, not general education funds. The CSM allocation criteria for different grade levels and non-personnel items are at https://www.dcpsdatacenter.com/budget_process.html. The original 2019-20 initial allocation figures have been updated to include amounts added to certain individual schools by DCPS and the DC Council during last year’s budget process.

      Specialty Funds

      Some schools within DCPS receive "specialty" funds that promote the unique goals of their program. For example the Duke Ellington School for the Arts uses its specialty funds to sustain a dual-curriculum that provides general studies and arts-intensive classes. Specialty funds are included in the initial school budget allocations as a block of dollars, not staff positions.

      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 static funding while they are gaining in their overall enrollment. To avoid this DCPS generally supports a minimum funding level per student and reinvests funds to schools if they would otherwise fall below that threshold. The PPFM minimum is calculated from all funding sources, including special education, ELL, at risk, and Title I, and therefore is allocated only to schools with relatively few students in these categories.

      Stabilization Funds

      The Fair Student Funding and School Based Budgeting Act of 2013 includes a legislative mandate that no school lose more than 5% of its UPSFF funds between fiscal years. If a school's preliminary allocation shows that it would lose more than 5% of these funds, DCPS is supposed to allocate stabilization funds to limit the loss to 5%. Stabilization does not necessarily apply when a major school configuration occurs, for example when a school goes from a PK-8 education campus to a PK-5 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 Division of Specialized Instruction staffing ratios. Funds are then allocated according to the given ratios. Staffing ratios for specific programs can be found in the FY21 Budget Guide [pdf]. Schools are not able to repurpose funds designed to support special education needs.

      English Language Learner Funds

      English Language Learner (ELL) allocations are determined on the basis of the number of ELL students enrolled. In 2020-21 schools will receive 1 teacher for every 22 ELL students. Aides are provided for every 50 or more students, minimum 50, and bilingual counselors for every 100 or more students, minimum 100. Schools are not able to repurpose funds designed to support ELL needs.

      At-Risk Funds

      The at-risk allocation is based on the number of students that are at-risk of academic failure based on one or more of the following: homeless, in the District's foster care system, receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or in high school only, are at least one year older than the expected age for their grade. At-risk funds follow the student to his or her school.

      Grant Funds

      "Grant funds" refers to money provided by the U.S. Department of Education through the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. The number of students at a school eligible for Free and Reduced Meals (FARM) has a direct impact on the amount of Title I funds that the school receives in its initial budget allocation. Title I funds provide support for students from low-income families. A small percentage of Title I funds are set aside to fund parent engagement initiatives at the school level. All students at schools that have 40% or more of their students at-risk are FARM-eligible, and these schools (about three-quarters of all DCPS schools) are considered 99% FARM-eligible for purposes of Title I. Title II funds are intended to support professional development for educators. Also included are federal funds from the 21st Century Community Learning Centers supplementing local funds in the After School Program (ASP) and local funds allocated by the Career & Technical Education Program of the Office of the State Superintendent of Education for non-personnel services of the NAF Career Academies.

      ASP Funds

      After-School Programs (ASP), once funded in whole or in part by Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) grants, are now funded predominantly by local funds supplemented by 21st Century Community Learning Center federal funding. Only the former appear here; the latter are included in Grants. 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 previous course recovery needs at each high school.

      Security Funds

      Security Funds cover the cost of contract security guards at each school. The program is directed by the Metropolitan Police Department.

      Learn More

      DCPS's FY21 Budget Guide [pdf] 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.

      Code for DCCoalition for Public Schools and Communities

      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, 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

      Initial Allocations for FY18, DC Public Schools. File provided April 22, 2017

      Initial Allocations for FY19, DC Public Schools, File provided March 21, 2018.

      Initial Allocations for FY20, DC Public Schools, File provided February 25, 2019.

      Initial Allocations for FY21, DC Public Schools, File provided March 5, 2020.

      Additional school information provided by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education. Retrieved January 25, 2015.

      Download and remix our data. Fork us on Github.

      Published March 2020 as a public domain work under the CC0 License.