School Finance:

Three States' Experiences With Equity in School Funding

HEHS-96-39: Published: Dec 19, 1995. Publicly Released: Dec 19, 1995.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the experiences of three states that reformed their school finance systems, focusing on the: (1) reforms made to each school finance system; (2) legal, budgetary, and political pressures that state legislatures faced in making the reforms; and (3) impact of the legislative remedies in addressing educational funding disparities.

GAO found that: (1) lawsuits prompted each state to address education funding disparities among school districts; (2) legislative solutions in all three states helped poor districts without harming the educational programs of wealthy districts and were sensitive to public sentiments concerning taxes; and (3) states undergoing similar education finance reforms should define the equity goals of their school finance systems in terms of the funding needed to achieve a certain level of student performance, link funding reform with greater accountability for student performance, and encourage all groups affected by education finance reform to participate in the decisionmaking process.

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