Thursday, April 19, 2018

MN Education Funding is Fuzzy

MinnPost: Bill exposes one more untraceable stream of education funding, raises equity concerns.

MN Ed Funding: A Guide for Legislators

In summary:
  • This system is way too complicated and fuzzy...
  • The Feds should meet their financial commitment or drop the requirements...
  • And this is the least of MN's Education problems


Laurie said...

Do you really think it is an acceptable idea for the federal govt to drop the requirement for districts providing special education? In my experience that requirement should remain and it would be good if the fed govt would provide a higher % of the needed funds.

I am strongly in favor of auditing the many streams of school funding and making it transparent if the funds are being used to educate the students for which they were intended. I think budgets at Mpls schools would change. Even in my charter network there are some questions if funds intended for one program are being used to help fund another program with lower enrollment.

John said...

You are much closer to this topic than I am. Sometimes I wonder though at the huge costs special ed incurs on our education system for some of the most challenged kids. Do you think it is worth it ?

Anonymous said...

Education is very challenging to fund. It is said that only two people in Minnesota understands how education is funded and one of them has been institutionalized. The system is something that needs to be reformed but there isn't any consensus as to how that should be done, meanwhile the schools have to open every day.


jerrye92002 said...

One of the solutions I and others have proposed is a simple expedient called program-based budgeting. The school simply takes the net cost per active participant of every "program"-- class subject and extracurricular-- and then ranks them by cost. A simple examination of our local school's extra-curriculars revealed some surprises. The students were charged $75 for each activity. Needless to say, chess club was a real cash cow, but football wasn't the most costly, because of ticket sales. Ski club cost more, but 9th grade girls gymnastics was costing $1200 per participant! So, what did the school do? Continued all activities. You cannot manage without information, but apparently in education you cannot manage WITH it, either.

I once sat down with the MN education funding formula to figure out why my school district should get, but since I only had a minor in math in college, I could not do it. The formula should be VASTLY simplified, tied to results, and PBB the required reporting method.

Laurie said...

I am not sure who you are referring to with the term challenging kids but I think we can afford to spend the money on kids with all types of disabilities- cognitive, physical, behavioral. I have spent over 20 years working with students with behavioral and mild cognitive disabilities. I haven't worked with students with more significant cognitive and physical disabilities. Anyhow, sped students do cost a lot of money to educate and their gains might be limited, but as I already said I think we can afford to provide quality spec ed services. It is worth it for both the students and their families.

Anonymous said...

Sure. We should keep the promise we made to special education children. The fact that we haven't isn't a very convincing argument as to why we shouldn't.


John said...

Thank you for the answer.

The argument is that in the worst cases is as Laurie said "do cost a lot of money to educate and their gains might be limited". Now I do understand spending the money when the child has the cognitive capability, however a small portion of the kids are likely to institutionalized for their whole life due to cognitive disabilities. And remember that we helped build a whole new facility for severe special needs.Distric 287

John said...

The challenge I have with this statement... "we can afford to provide quality spec ed services."

In the old days many severe special needs people would have died. Now we have the medical capability to save them at great cost. And then you say we should spend a huge amount on their care and education.

Who is that "we" you are talking about?

I assume you mean the wealthy folks who you want to raise taxes on. Correct?

Laurie said...

"we" are the taxpayers in a progressive taxation system. I personally might not make the choice to go to great lengths to save a severely disabled infant. I don't think many people are institutionalized any more and if they are they deserve quality care.

I think as for education larger districts have the advantage of creating programs for severely disabled children. I know in my charter school we sometimes advise families that mpls public schools would provide better services for the needs of their child than I can as the only sped teacher in my bldg.

What do you think should be done for children with severe disabilities? deny them care at their birth so they don't survive. I think parents- with the advice of physicians should make that choice.

John said...

I am not sure, but Hiram and yourself typically answer “we should pay more”.

Just curious if you ever think about the fiscal consequences?

John said...

Or if you have a money tree out back...

Laurie said...

about once a year I buy a lottery ticket and if I should ever be the lucky winner I will be happy to pay a very large amt in taxes. As it is right now I feel like I am paying my fair share, though I would pay more SS for higher future benefits.

about education spending on spec ed I don't think we need to pay more. We can continue to provide the level of service that we do currently. Gen ed needs more money.

John said...

The reason Gen Ed is short money is because:

- some Teachers are paid too much relative to their actual performance (ie the problem with steps, lanes and tenure)

- gen ed funding is siphoned over to spec ed to pay for those really expensive kids.

- we as a society allow really incapable and/or irresponsible baby mamas / papas to make, keep and screw up young children

Remember my pet peeve about people mostly care about the rights of the adults...

Still curious...

I am not sure, but Hiram and yourself typically answer “we should pay more”. Just curious if you ever think about the fiscal consequences?

Laurie said...

We could start by repealing the recent Trump / GOP tax cut which would have fiscal consequence only for the rich. What fiscal consequences are you worried about?

I think a more progressive tax code would make the economy stronger.

John said...

"which would have fiscal consequence only for the rich"

I think you need to study the details of these plans a bit more:
- Remember that the Bush Tax Plan cut taxes for all of us.
- Then Obama and DEMS forced the GOP to let the tax cuts on the wealthy sunset out in about 2012.
- Then the Trump tax cuts gave most Americans a cut.

Bush Obama Cuts
Trump Tax Cut

Personally I am fine going back to the Clinton tax rates. Then all of us would be paying more for this stuff we apparently want.

John said...

Fiscal consequences I worry about...

- When cost of doing business and investing in the USA is too high.
- So US consumers buy even more product from over seas.
- Investors invest in popular / profitable companies.
- So we have fewer jobs, lower incomes and fewer tax revenues in the USA.

Are you ready to pay more for an Made in America, Designed in America car yet? KOGOD

Now if you a Left Leaning American Worker supporting Liberal are not willing to pay more to support American jobs and tax revenues... Why do you think anyone else should?

And do you think higher taxes make the USA more attractive or less attractive to employers?

jerrye92002 said...

If we had program-based budgeting, each Spec. Ed kid would be a "program" and the costs would be known, whereupon "we" could make a judgment about how much "value add" or "cost benefit" was involved rather than emotionally-driven, unlimited expenses. My judgement has always been that we should spend extra on those kids that need just a little extra help to mainstream, and not take away vast sums from the regular or gifted kids for those unfortunates who may never be self-supporting.

Laurie said...

The trump tax cut doesn't do much for people at my income level, not really noticeable in my paycheck. I have seen many stories about how well the big banks are doing under the new tax law.

John said...

Well for your pensions sake let's hope they own bank shares then.

I have been happy with my Vanguard Bank ETF

John said...

It looks like they own a lot of different things, including banks.

State Board of Investment

John said...

Just curious... How do you know this?

"trump tax cut doesn't do much for people at my income level"

Have you reviewed your with holding to see if it is correct given all the pending changes?

Or are you just listening to the Liberal talking heads?

John said...

This calculator says I will save about $1,800... We will see...

I used my last child tax credit last year... My littlest girl is growing up...

Now if you save $900 / year will that be good or bad?

jerrye92002 said...

When were the new withholding tables sent to employers? That tax cut should show up in paychecks shortly thereafter. Biggest advantage to me, I think, will be the increased standard deduction, which will NOT show up in the paycheck but should increase my refund when I file.

BTW, spoke to a couple of legislators yesterday about tax conformity. I was told that about 20% of MN taxpayers would see a tax INCREASE in their state taxes, but the rest of us would get a cut. I didn't quite understand how that difference was determined-- type of income or income level or...

I wonder how education would fare if the State went to zero-based budgeting, another great idea that is taboo to mention in St. Paul?

John said...

Well if I do save $1800/ year it would show up as only $69/paycheck so I wouldn't eve notice it compare to all the other variables.

I am not sure the standard deduction will do anything for me. The loss of exemptions and the limit on State tax deductions will probably balance out.

Again the problem with the tax cut is that is money borrowed from our kids and the future security of America. Not worth it.

Activity Based Costing is great except that it very difficult and expensive to do.

I like this quote from the source. "When ABC is reportedly used in the public administration sector, the reported studies do not provide evidence about the success of methodology beyond justification of budgeting practise and existing service management and strategies."

That is why most companies don't do it. Allocating all those share fixed costs correctly is almost impossible.

jerrye92002 said...

I know that ABC is not the same as PBB. Perhaps the difference is that "fixed costs" are not included unless unique to the program. I know the software already exists for schools to do PBB, and my own district has used it on a limited basis without a whimper about the cost of doing it. And considering how quickly and easily it points out stupid expenditures, it SHOULD be an effective management tool. And mandating that form of reporting rather than the current COA method should make eminent good sense.

John said...

Well if one ignores the fixed costs... That is somewhat limited in value.

Looks like they use ABC in what you call PBB... See below.

Link 1
Priority Based Costing Search

John said...

By the way, I don't disagree that ABC or PBB are good things.

However with most of the school functions being mandated... I am not sure they would be worth the effort in most cases.

It isn't like the school has any choice in if they provide special services or not.

jerrye92002 said...

One of the things that "falls out" of the PBB reporting is that the mandates show up clearly. They are marked top priority, regardless of cost, because they are mandatory, but there are different ways to meet the requirement. For example, we found in our district that the foreign language requirement could be met by taking Spanish, French, German or Chinese. We had x number of students required to take a foreign language, so dividing that up required X number of teachers, each teaching 5 classes/day. But because there were only a few students of Chinese-- not enough to fill 5 classes-- we would have had to hire one additional teacher, just to teach one class/day of Chinese. The "cost per active participant" for a required foreign language class was higher for that language than for the others. We were lucky enough to find a teacher who could teach Chinese AND Spanish, so problem solved, but how rare is that? Sensible administrators would quit offering Chinese as an option. Simple math.

In the case I cited earlier, where chess club was a positive cash flow of $65/year and 9th grade girls gymnastics was losing $1175/year, the sensible thing (since neither is mandatory) was to drop the 9th grade gymnastics program-- leave it to the community or private organizations. It was completely obvious from the PBB.

And again, the only reason this tool is not available is because the State requires a specific financial reporting scheme. Even the small cost of doing PBB on top of that mandatory scheme is prohibitive. Change the reporting method to PBB and all schools could use it with no extra expense. Whether they looked at the results-- one assumes they would spot some glaring issues immediately-- we don't know.