Weighted student funding is about spending limited dollars much more wisely.
Our health care, salary and transportation costs are rising rapidly and are taking resources out of our classrooms. Our shift to weighted student funding allows BPS to more efficiently direct dollars to where our students need them most; but it does not replace the need to make tough decisions about the way we spend money now.
Weighted student funding allows us to focus on investing in programs that work, protect the progress we have made and put the interests of students first in every decision we make.
Schools will receive funding based on their students, then will decide how best to spend it.
Schools’ budgets are based on who they are educating -- not the flat number of students or staff they usually have in the building. For example, schools with a higher percentage of students whose family income is at the poverty level would need more resources to educate students, or a student with language challenges might require more highly specialized staff. In these cases, the school receives a higher per-pupil amount. This per-pupil amount would follow the student to whichever school he or she chose.
Some schools will receive more money than they did last year, and others will receive less.
A weighted student funding model creates a baseline per-student funding figure and then adjusts the number up or down depending on individual student need. BPS is working with principals and headmasters to help them allocate these dollars most effectively.
Weighted student funding is more equitable, transparent and predictable
Enabling schools to make greater academic progress regardless of the economy. Under a weighted student funding formula, dollars follow students. This means BPS anticipates what each student needs each year and then delivers the appropriate funds to the school that student attends. Dollars no longer follow programs, buildings or schools. Instead, we allocate budgets solidly based on student need. Weighted student funding is about spending limited dollars much more wisely.
Under a weighted student funding model, BPS calculates per-student funding by assigning a value to the various factors that go into meeting a student’s academic needs, and then adding them up. Every student has a different one, which is based on his or her grade level, educational needs, and learning challenges or ability. A school’s budget is calculated by adding the individual funding estimates for every student projected to attend that school in the fall.
Grade - Level
- These weights are a function of class size. The weights are heavier in early grades because the student/teacher ratio is smaller. Our contracted class size maximum is not changing and the weights are set at target class sizes. In addition, incoming 9th grade students defined in our Leading and Lagging Indicators as “high-risk” or “off-track” receive an additional weight. This extra funding allows high schools to provide targeted resources to at-risk students.
- Students who come from a challenging home environment sometimes need extra support in the classroom. This is why we set higher weights for students who qualify for a free or reduced lunch program. In addition, schools that educate students living in poverty at a higher level than 60 percent will receive extra funding on top of this increased allocation. Schools with high concentrations of students living in poverty may also receive federal Title I funds, which are in addition to the general fund school allocation that flows through a weighted student formula.
English Language Learners
- The FY15 budget includes weights that change based on ELD levels to provide a more equitable distribution of resources across levels of need, which are determined programmatically and not at the school level.
Students with Disabilities
- These weights are calculated based on optimal staffing levels for varying degrees of need as recommended by our Office of Special Education and Student Services. Our new Highly Specialized Setting programs are designed to replace existing Substantially Separate classes. We have based weights on class size targets set at one or two students lower than necessary staffing levels to allow schools flexibility to purchase additional resources if needed.
- The FY15 budget includes a weight for emotional impairment, which will help schools ensure appropriate supports can be in place for these students at all levels.
- This measure continues the FY13 increase in pupil funding by 50% for students in designated Vocational programs. This weight was developed based on the standards the state gives us in their funding formula.
- All schools, no matter their size, receive $200,000 to support a core administrative function. Typically, this will include a principal or headmaster, an administrative support position, and additional funding for overall school support. Principals and headmasters may create other positions based on funding levels determined through class size management and the weighted student funding model.
These weights also take the unique needs of Early Education Centers, Early Learning Centers and Dual-Language programs into account.