Is a Student-based Allocation Funding Formula Right For Your District?

ESSA requirements has many districts considering methods that not only increase school-level spending, but improve equitable opportunities for students. Implementing a student-based allocation (SBA) funding method could help districts accomplish both. Read on to find out why districts should consider SBA methods and learn the impact it could have upon your district below by asking three simple questions: 

What do you want to change?

While there are many reasons why a district may want to transition to SBA, most districts wanting to transition to SBA are looking to increase equity in funding, flexibility in the use of funds, and transparency into the amount of funding schools would receive. Ask yourself:

  • Is your district’s funding formula transparent allowing all stakeholders to access and understand how much funding is being allocated to each school and why?
  • Is your funding formula equitable, allocating resources to each student based on need and district weights/metrics that better support students with higher needs?

What has to happen first?

Transitioning won’t happen overnight and will take strategic forethought and planning to implement. Take the time to list out all the obstacles your district will need to address in order for SBA implementation to be successful:

  • Do you need to change your budgeting process to better attribute central level office expenditures down to the school-level?
  • Does your district need to prime principals to handle budget ownership?
  • Do you need to improve/create a funding formula that encourages equity and is weighted based on per-pupil metrics?

What would be the impact of that change?

SBA implementation can improve resource equity and increase autonomy for principals and schools. What does your district primarily hope to gain as an outcome of implementing SBA?

  • Are you hoping to undo inequitable distributions created by basic funding formulas?
  • Are you interested in implementing hold harmless provisions for metrics such as enrollment decline, adjustments for size and urbanicity, or to offset charter school growth?


If you answered “yes” to most of the questions above, SBA may be right for your district.


Ready to get started?

We can help! Chat with Account Executive, Marques Whitmire for more tips and tricks on how your district can get started transitioning to SBA today.

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About the Author

Marques Whitmire

Marques Whitmire, Senior Account Executive, has five years of experience in k-12 education finance. At Indianapolis Public Schools, Marques was responsible for the development and distribution of $109M in general education funds across 60 schools. He worked to transition the district from traditional staffing allocations to a system of student-based budgeting by developing the allocation methodology, leading collaborative efforts to develop the weights, and assisting with change management and training efforts. Marques was also a leader in system upgrades and implementation, including the selection of a new budget tool to develop the budget in the context of student-based budgeting and principal autonomy.