School finance partnership programs outside of per pupil what other states are doing
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School Finance Partnership Programs Outside of Per Pupil: What Other States Are Doing. Mary Wickersham, Colorado Children’s Campaign. What is a categorical?. Funding delivered outside of per pupil funding; Particular students or programs; Required to be spent in specified ways;.

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School finance partnership programs outside of per pupil what other states are doing

School Finance PartnershipPrograms Outside of Per Pupil: What Other States Are Doing

Mary Wickersham, Colorado Children’s Campaign


What is a categorical?

  • Funding delivered outside of per pupil funding;

  • Particular students or programs;

  • Required to be spent in specified ways;



Other state programs
Other State Programs

Source: Joint Budget Committee Staff


Categorical funding
Categorical funding

  • All of state categorical funding is state $$, there is no local share.

  • Except that none of the categorical programs provides 100% of the costs associated with the services or students identified.

  • On average unreimbursed categorical programs accounted for about 17% of total district SFA revenue (nearly 30% in Denver)


Substantial underfunding of some categoricals
Substantial underfunding of some categoricals

  • Special Education: The state and federal government collectively provide about 35% of special education funding.

    • Unreimbursed Special Ed. costs can amount to 16% of a district’s school finance revenue.

  • Transportation: Just under 25% of school district expenditures on transportation are covered by the state.

    • Unreimbursed transportation costs can amount to 8% of a district’s school finance revenue.

  • ELPA: On a per student basis, students that do not speak or comprehend English receive an additional $182, while those with better skills receive as little as $17.

    • For a district like Denver, total ELPA funding ($1.7M) covers about 2% of the expenditures for those students/programs.


The use of categorical funding in other states
The use of categorical funding in other states

  • 49 states use categorical funding as a mechanism to direct additional funds to targeted students and schools.

  • Ohio reported 105 separate categorical programs. In contrast, Alaska, North Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming each reported only 2.

  • Colorado ranks 34th in dollar allocation for categorical programs per capita.


Advantages of using categorical funding
Advantages of using categorical funding

  • Some programs do not easily lend themselves to per pupil distribution

    • Transportation: the cost per pupil for transportation varies from over $3800 per pupil (Agate) to a low of less than $150 per pupil (Estes Park).

    • Capital: on a per pupil basis local capital capacity varies 21,000%.

  • As an equity measure, programs for at risk students are sometimes created as categoricals to ensure the $$ do get spent on those students.

  • Often state educational priorities get created as categoricals to ensure $$ be used in a specific way.

    • Reduced class size in Florida.

    • After school programs in California.

    • Counselor Corps here in Colorado

    • Federal funding examples (outside of formula distribution): TIF, I3, Turnaround grants


D isadvantages of using categorical funding
Disadvantages of using categorical funding

  • Because funding is not tied to students, programs are less likely to see regular increases and programs are more likely to be underfunded.

  • Because of funding uncertainty, problems with fiscal sustainability of programs.

  • In general, because categorical programs are created separately, they are more easily eliminated.

  • Specific spending constraints impede flexibility and innovation.


Capital funding in colorado best
Capital funding in Colorado: BEST

  • About half of the state’s school districts to not have the total local capacity to build a single school.

  • Dedicated funding stream from the School Land Trust;

  • Grant-based distribution based on need;

  • Local matching amount requirement is means-tested;

  • Statewide needs assessment identified $17.9 billion in unmet needs and the current program is on target to deliver $1 billion before leverage capacity runs out.

  • Has created/saved nearly 9000 jobs to date.


New development of incentive reward categorical programs
New development of incentive/reward categorical programs

  • Because of the nature of performance-based incentives and/or rewards, these programs would most easily designed as categorical programs (instead of built into the formula).

    • They are not automatically delivered;

    • They do not go to each student/district equally.


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