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Study Shows Extra Services to Address Poverty Strain Rural, Urban School Dollars

Tuesday, January 14, 2014 at 1:59 PM

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photo courtesy of Tax Credits/Flickr.

A recent analysis of the average amount of money Ohio schools spend per student shows rural and urban districts have to stretch their dollars further than their suburban counterparts. The report's author says that's largely because of the concentration of high needs kids that rural and urban districts serve. ideastream's Michelle Kanu reports.

The study by the Education Tax Policy Institute concludes districts that serve a high percentage of impoverished and special education students spend a large portion of their funds on extra services for those kids.

The Institute’s Howard Fleeter compared the amount of money school districts spend per student, and broke down the expenses. 

He found rural and urban districts spend 20-40 percent of their money on things like specialized equipment for special ed students, translation materials for English Language Learners, and free or reduced price lunches. 

He says that puts them at a disadvantage compared to wealthier districts.  “The actual amount of resources that they can spend on the basic nuts and bolts of education is a lot lower.”

Fleeter believes that’s one reason why many urban and rural districts performed worse on the state report card than their counterparts that have fewer kids in poverty. 

“Poverty is a very significant issue. It’s very highly correlated with performance.  And when you take into account the costs, the districts that are facing the highest poverty don’t have the same resources after taking into account the costs that they face than do the lower poverty districts,” he says.

Fleeter says his study could have implications for how the state funds school districts in the future.  Over the past 10 years, the amount of Ohio students living in poverty has increased by more than 50 percent.

The Education Tax Policy Institute is a non-profit group of statewide education organizations.

Tags

Economy, Education, Government/Politics

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