The School Finance Redesign Project: A Synthesis of Project Work to Date

January 2008

Education still claims the lion's share of state and local government expenditures, but rising costs and competition with other sectors have put public education in a squeeze. Though there are moral and legal arguments for spending whatever it takes to give our children a good education, the reality is that spending will always be finite; moreover, as in other parts of the public sector, there will always be more ideas about how to spend money than there is money available.

In the past decade, controversies about public spending on education have grown as states adopted performance standards pledging that every child will learn enough to become an independent productive citizen and as No Child Left Behind has put teeth into those expectations.

In this environment, elected officials have searched for answers to two questions: How much money will it take for all students to meet standards and how should the money be spent? The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation asked CRPE to create a School Finance Redesign Project (SFRP) to help elected officials better understand how the finance system now works and to identify their options in allocating resources to support K-12 education. This Interim Report explains the questions we posed, the research strategies we employed, and the ways in which we will present the results. It also previews some of our early findings.

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