Oakland Unified is one of about 10 districts across the country that has tried an approach to funding its schools that’s designed to focus more resources in low-income areas than traditional budgeting systems do.
This means that local schools have more say in how they spend their money (a figure roughly based on attendance and enrollment) than they used to. Individual schools also pay their teachers’ salaries out of that pool of money, so those with more experienced — and expensive — teachers have less money left over for other things.
Researchers from the nonpartisan, Washington, D.C.-based social science research group American Institutes for Research recently studied how these budgeting systems were put in place in Oakland and San Francisco, and how they have worked.
Through their interviews and focus groups, researchers found a strong preference in both school districts for this approach. But they also found that it didn’t bridge the “experience gap” between the teaching staffs at high- and low-poverty schools – and that it was quite a lot of work (no surprise there). You can read a summary of the study in this news release.
The full report, “A Tale of Two Districts: A Comparative Study of Student-Based Funding and School-Based Decision Making in San Francisco and Oakland Unified School Districts,” is available here.
What do you think about Oakland’s “Results-Based Budgeting” system, and how could it improve?