Will your district or charter school receive more money?

New-school-fundingnorthEven if they have a slight decline in the number of students served, most Minnesota districts and charter schools will be receiving more money per pupil in the coming school year.

That’s one of the key lessons learned in talking with Tom Melcher, director of the Minnesota Department of Education’s finance division. Thanks go to Melcher and his colleague, Bob Porter, who compiled data for the charts accompanying this column. The charts show several things.

In part because Gov. Mark Dayton and the 2014 Legislature agreed to add $23.4 million to the general formula that is the major source for K-12 public education, most districts and charter public schools will receive additional funds. The numbers below reflect income from both the state and local property taxes. For example:

–Anoka-Hennepin is projected to have about 300 fewer students but will receive $454 more per pupil.

–Braham is projected to have 19 additional student and $316 more per pupil.

–Forest Lake predicted 70 fewer students and will receive an additional $484 per pupil.

–Princeton is projected to have about 29 fewer students but will receive $586 more per pupil.

Districts that have had difficulty passing referendums to pay per-pupil costs will receive substantially more per pupil. This is in part because the Legislature and governor have been trying to equalize funding overall.

For example, Cambridge-Isanti will receive $1,005 more per pupil and North Branch will get $994 more per pupil.

A few districts and charter public schools will receive less per pupil. In many cases, this is because they had a lower number of students from low-income families last year (2013-14) than the previous year. Part of the funding formula gives extra dollars for schools serving high percentages of these students. This part of the funding formula is based on previous year student demographics.

Statewide, districts and charters are receiving on average an additional $565 per pupil in the coming school year compared to the 2013-14 school year. Three hundred twenty districts will receive more money per pupil; 11 will receive less. One hundred nineteen charters will receive more per pupil; 30 will receive less.

Money can help make a difference with students. In coming weeks, this column will discuss ways that money can be spent.

Over the next few years, we’ll be able to determine whether a higher percentage of Minnesota students are entering kindergarten with the skills teachers want them to have and whether high school graduation rates are increasing. We’ll also be able to tell if more Minnesota students are entering a one-, two- or four-year college or university program. And because Minnesota is participating in national data gathering, we’ll learn whether a smaller percentage of Minnesota high school graduates are taking remedial courses in colleges and universities.

The governor and Legislature have added millions of dollars for public schools. Monitoring results will help show what difference these dollars are making.

Joe Nathan, formerly a Minnesota public school teacher, administrator and PTA president, directs the Center for School Change. Reactions are welcome at [email protected]