Wednesday, January 9, 2019



Here are the School District and Charter losers in the new formula, using 17-18 information for the old distribution system and 17-18 data for the new. Whereas we looked at the "wealth" adjustment in the Part 2 of this series, these numbers are the "apples to apples" comparison of 17-18 data for the current formula and the "new" proposed formula. They do not include the 2018-19 wealth adjustment data, or West Ada would be on the list.

Here are the Charter Schools that lose in the proposed new formula:

There are 83 school districts and charters that would take a loss in the implementation of the new formula. Since 80-85% of each district's expenditures typically are sunk into staffing, we calculated the loss in terms of teachers at $50k per teacher, and came up with a loss of 531 teachers.

Obviously, some losses are substantial, and some less impactful. Clearly, though, the move to the new formula would affect a number of districts and charters.

What's really concerning, though, is that the demographics of the schools and districts that lose funding are all over the board. Bliss for example, is a small district with 82% free/reduced lunch, Clark County has 72% FRL, American Falls 64%, Valley 64%, and Culdesac 62%. On the other end of the spectrum, Compass, Sage, Meridian Technical, and CDA Charters all have FRL %ages under 20%, Genesee is at 23% and Troy is at 21%. So certainly the demographics of the students are not driving funding in this proposed formula.


On the flip side, Bonneville School District gains about $3.6 million (5.1%) in the new formula, and Caldwell gains $2.9 million (7.9%). Caldwell certainly has a high percentage of free/reduced lunch, at over 80%, but Bonneville, at 39%, is about the same as Lakeland, Teton, Sugar-Salem, New Plymouth, and Fruitland, which all lose funding. 

Of the ten biggest percentage gainers in the formula, eight are charters. The two districts in the grouping are Lapwai and Plummer/Worley, which have 90+% free/reduced. The charters are Chief Tahgee (Fort Hall) (80+%), The Village (Boise) (19%), Monticello Montessori (Pocatello) (15%), Gem Prep (Nampa and Pocatello) (na), North Valley (Gooding) (58%), Bingham Academy (Pocatello), (40%) and Palouse Prairie (Moscow) (30%).


All in all, this is a very complicated formula, and it's difficult to tell which factors are contributing the most to the status of winners and losers. But we understand the conundrum caused by using mathematical algorithms to determine funding in a state like Idaho.

  • When you just use free/reduced  factor, you get:
    • low poverty levels in a few districts, like Bonneville, West Ada, Lewiston, Soda Springs, and most charters
    • high poverty in Districts such as Lapwai, Plummer/Worley, Caldwell, Vallivue, and Nampa
    • urban poverty in Boise, Idaho Falls, and Pocatello
    • rural poverty over much of the state
  • When you use ELL (you should use Limited English), you get:
    • rural Latino concentrations over much of the state
    • urban Latino concentrations in many towns and cities
    • urban refugee populations in Boise, West Ada, and Twin Falls
    • very few ELL/LEP students in northern Idaho and some parts of eastern Idaho
  • The small district factor, when applied to charters:
    • covers for the lack of diversity in most charters
    • belies the original intent of the factor and hurts small rural districts
    • does not cover for the lack of diversity in large charters such as Sage and Thomas Jefferson
  • The Remote School weight accounts for the costs that consolidated county districts incur in serving remote schools within the county.
  • The wealth factor distributes wealth as if it were an equalizing factor, without the levy funds that were equalized prior to 2006, thus distributing funds from locally authorized levies across the state.
  • The Large district factor attempts to account for some of the costs of running a district with more than 20,000 students. There are only two of those in the state - Boise and West Ada.


In Part 4 of this series, we will provide an alternative idea, one that allows us to dip our toe into the "weighting" process, while staying out of the proposed zero sum game where over half the districts and charters in the state lose revenue.