Coming reauthorization of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act has brought up serious issues with the formula the federal government uses to allocate monies under Title I, the program that targets financial support to high-poverty schools. Inequity in the formula disadvantages poor rural school districts including, as it turns out, Central Appalachian school districts.
Marty Strange of the Rural School and Community Trust explains the issue in an article in the Daily Yonder. The weighting system used to determine funding gives more allocation per Title I student to larger districts than to smaller ones even if they have the same (or often even a smaller) share of students who are disadvantaged.
Among the 25 rural school districts that lose the most education funds because of this formula, several are in Central Appalachia: Floyd County, Kentucky; Cocke County, Tennessee; Campbell County, Tennessee; and Knox County, Kentucky. These districts each lost between $300,000 and $400,000 in education funding in the most recent year due to the formula. And as Strange notes, the rural districts that are the biggest losers are often in states that chronically underfund education.
Strange’s analysis is contained in a report for the Formula Fairness Campaign.