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Can Education Entrepreneurs Crack Public Education?

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After all these years, some education entrepreneurs are still struggling with the need to engage with "them" -- the public and political entities that govern public education. You'd be amazed (or maybe you wouldn't). For that reason, the tone was calm, but the challenges presented at the opening NSVF session that just finished this morning in New Orleans were actually quite pointed. Moderated by Andy Rotherham, the session focused on whether and how the education philanthropy community and its beneficiary groups can more so in the future engage with and make a difference in the rest of the education world, rather than working on the margins in single schools, programs, and networks. This challenge brought up issues of scale, human capital, and rhetoric, about which not everyone agreed. Former Virginia governor Mark Warner urged the community to get into the education system rather than just partnering with it or working around it. Denver superintendent Michael Bennett, recently profiled in The New Yorker, detailed the challenges of community engagement and called for reformers to turn charters back on the system as a reform lever rather than continue working on them as an escape valve. Dacia Toll from Achievement First responded that scale was not the problem for her and other charter proponents, but rather quality.

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No, school boards need fiscal autonomy.
Every year school boards are faced with asking their governing bodies
for revenue they need to continue the services they provide and every
year they are short changed.

By giving school boards taxing authority, school boards would have
the authority to decide what is going to happen in their schools and
to generate the revenue necessary to make that happen.
Revenue for K-12 public schools comes primarily from state
governments, local school districts and the federal government. In
the aggregate, the states provide 48% of all revenue, school
districts provide 45%, and the federal government provides 7% of all
revenue.1 The majority of state level education funding is
appropriated from state general funds, with other funding from
earmarked taxes such as income and sales taxes. State funding levels,
established in state policy, can create incentives or disincentives
for districts to provide full-day kindergarten. When states provide
funding for full-day kindergarten that is equal to or greater than
state funding provided for 1st grade, districts have an incentive to
offer full-day kindergarten. To date, only eight states provide
school districts with funding for full-day kindergarten that is equal
to or greater than that provided for 1st grade.2 In contrast, when
states provide funding for full-day kindergarten that is less than
funding provided for 1st grade, local revenue sources must make up
the difference. Funding for local school districts comes primarily
from property taxes. In some states, other sources of revenue
provide funding streams, such as local sales taxes and local income
taxes. To that end, local district taxation, as well as state limits
on spending, play a critical role in whether or not local school
districts have the ability to support programs such as full-day
Local Control Over School Budgets and Taxes
School district budget and tax rate procedures vary among the states.
Often, local school boards have authority for both developing budgets
and levying taxes to support district budgets. If school districts
can levy taxes to support public education, they are considered
fiscally independent. The nature of this taxing authority varies from
state to state. For example, school boards in some states may need
voter approval for any tax increase, while others may need only voter
approval after a specified tax rate is surpassed.
In some instances, school boards do not have independent tax
authority, so another governmental entity typically a municipal or
county governing body approves the budget and levies taxes. If a
school district cannot levy its own taxes, it is considered fiscally

Follow the links below for more information on fiscal autonomy
(independence) for schools.


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