Here’s a fascinating report Monday from Education Week, which tells the story of one Iowa school district’s surprising response to apparently insufficient state funding.
According to the paper, the Davenport Community Schools district says that it may be forced to break state law in order to fill in budget gaps, gaps wrought, according to the district’s superintendent, by state funding holes.
This sort of story is, of course, playing out across North Carolina as well, with many districts complaining that they are forced to tap into their reserves to offset withering state allotments.
From Education Week:
Fed up with years of political battling over the fairness of Iowa’s education funding formula, Arthur Tate, the superintendent of the Davenport public schools, says in order to balance his books next year, he will illegally pull $2.7 million out of the district’s reserves. It’s an amount he bases on the state’s 1971 funding formula, which leaves Davenport $175 less to spend per student compared to some other districts.
The state tightly controls how much districts can spend, and dipping into emergency savings accounts without state permission is strictly forbidden. Officials say Tate could lose his superintendent’s license given by the state if he goes ahead, and the district’s board members, who unanimously approved the plan this month, could be charged criminally.
“I’m tired of the inequality,” said Tate, the head of a district whose 15,500 students are mostly low-income, Hispanic, and black. “I think there’s a higher philosophy and principle at stake here. Every student should be worth the same, and the state is saying ours are worth much less.”