Learn the five broad steps to transitioning your funding formula: 1) evaluating current state, 2) convening a steering committee, 3) defining the outcome, 4) modeling, and 5) implementation.
1. Evaluate your current state
Successful districts transition to weighted student funding (WSF) formulas over several years so make sure you manage your expectations and plan for the long term. Before you begin, review your site-level spending to assess how funds are currently being used.
How are resources currently being distributed across your district?
How much is spent in schools vs. the central office and how are resources allocated across various student groups?
As you evaluate where your district stands today, look for patterns that can provide insights on how money is flowing to schools, identify your implicit student funding weights, and determine the problem you are trying to solve.
2. Convene a steering committee
Implementing a new funding model is an adjustment that affects all aspects of a school district. Convene a core, cross-departmental steering committee to help you define your guiding principles and determine the desired outcomes of your funding modification.
Consider including school principals, parents or community members and potentially members of your Board of Education to gather early feedback and buy-in.
Since a “one-size-fits-all” approach doesn’t apply for developing a weighted student formula, use your steering committee to develop a common definition of weighted student funding for YOUR district as well as guiding principles for the committee itself, the funding formula, site-level autonomies and implementation. Lastly, make sure you identify who needs to be involved to approve the new funding model.
3. Define the desired outcome
Your steering committee will help you answer critical questions that can significantly impact the efficacy of your funding formula. Use these questions to guide your district's funding model outcomes.
Questions to consider:
- What funds should be eligible for weighted student funding and which are non-negotiable?
- What specific equity gap(s) you are targeting?
- How will site-level decision making and autonomy change over time and how will compliance measures be implemented?
4. Modeling and Scenarios
As your steering committee begins modeling and assessing WSF scenarios, use the questions below to measure the efficacy of each model:
- Resolution of equity gaps: Is the model solving the problem we intended it to solve?
- Communication: Is it easy to understand?
- Sensitivity: How sensitive is the model to changes in parameters?
- Implications: What wraparound processes/policies have to change as a result of each of these scenarios?
- Givers and gainers: How does funding in each weighted student funding model compare to the current state?
Get feedback from board members, principals, and members of your local community as you model and assess different funding scenarios.
WSF formulas require that the majority of district spending be attributed to individual schools in order to accurately represent all the resources being expended at a school. You will need to have tools in place that account for spending at the school level before the new formula takes effect to launch your new formula successfully.
Your success will also depend on how well your district is trained to adopt the new changes. Aim to engage and reassure those affected on more than one occasion of the benefits to them personally of the new funding model, assuring them of the district’s support. Clearly articulate the risks and benefits of the funding change to demystify any apprehension. Ongoing communication and training is essential and should be tailored for each stakeholder.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Allovue works with districts and state departments of education across the country to allocate, budget, and manage spending. Allovue's software suite integrates seamlessly with existing accounting systems to make sure every dollar works for every student. Allovue also provides additional services such as chart of accounts and funding formula revisions.