The concept of student-based budgeting (SBB), also called weighted student funding or fair student funding, has been around for several years now but is recently becoming more popular as more school districts across the country have begun to adopt the practice with a range of successful results.
Traditionally, school districts have allocated staffing and funding to schools simply based on the number of students enrolled at each school. On the surface, this seems like an equitable way to distribute limited resources. However, this method has a number of shortcomings:
• It assumes that all students benefit from the same resources in the same way.
• Funding designed to provide additional support for certain student populations does not necessarily get distributed to the schools that those students attend or is not distributed in effective amounts.
• School leaders are minimally involved in the process, which then makes it more difficult to hold them accountable for academic results.
Student-based budget models not only consider the number of students at each school, they also factor specific student needs into the planning process. They provide flexibility for resources to be allocated for specific types of students, such as gifted students, students from low-income households, English language learners, or students with special education needs. SBB can also help address low academic performance and serve as a powerful tool in an overall academic intervention strategy. Because principals and teachers have greater autonomy to determine how resources are used, they can be more proactive in making sure that budget allocations fit the needs of the actual students at their specific schools, thereby improving overall academic outcomes.
On a local level, Shelby County Schools is seeking funding equity by joining the list of districts implementing student-based budgeting model. Learn more about the impact that this will have on our students and how you can get involved.