- Borrower Beware
- Volume 18, Number 2
- Managing Editor: Mark D. Shroder
- Associate Editor: Michelle P. Matuga
Leveling the Playing Field:
School District Spending in
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The United States is the only industrialized nation that funds its public schools from local- and state-level taxes (Payne and Biddle, 1999). School resource disparities across districts reflect economic differences between the wealthy and poor. A school district’s spending per student in each district is based on the economic needs of the students or the school as a whole, which typically is based on median household income. School districts typically determine how much funding each school receives by calculating a cost per student that is the ratio of total school cost to the number of students. The cost-per-student ratio is then divided by the median household income in that district to derive a spending-to-income (SIC) ratio—
SIC ratio = [cost per student/median household income].
Using Montgomery County, Maryland, as an example, these costs can be visualized in a spatial analysis to determine if spending is distributed according to income differences.
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