School funding issues conclusions

 Conclusion and Implications The purpose of this study was to examine factors influencing the thoughts and perceptions of statewide policy makers engaged in the process of funding schools. Alabama has 140 legislators and 132 school superintendents. They collectively represent a very diverse group of constituents as well as personal backgrounds and experiences. In addition, they vary in their level of understanding of the political process and their understanding of quality school programs. Superintendents and legislators must gain a clearer understanding of each other’s thinking to develop effective strategies for establishing a consensus for change. 

Identifying differences and similarities between superintendents and legislators can provide directives for future consensus initiatives relative to securing and deploying additional resources. The outcomes of this study should be useful to both groups as they gain an enhanced understanding of each other’s perspectives related to school funding. Evidence was found to conclude there is a difference between legislators and superintendents on the factor of equity and adequacy; furthermore, the typical legislator scored 2.14 points higher than superintendents on this factor. The mean factor scores on Equity and Adequacy are actually weighted averages based on eight survey items. Of these eight items, superintendents outscored legislators on only two of the factor items. In addition, of these two factors only one factor difference was statistically significant and the other factor difference indicated an emerging trend toward significance. The two survey items are number 10 and 12. Survey item 10 states, “Districts should be required to contribute a local match in an amount greater than 10 mills in order to receive state funds.” The median response for legislators was agreement, but the median response for superintendents was disagreement. Efforts could be made to inform legislators that most states require a local match much higher than 10 mills required in Alabama. This low threshold results in a funding model that is primarily dependent on state appropriations. An increase in local match would provide more stable funding for the districts and take some of the pressure off the legislators to meet the needs for providing adequate state funds. This represents an opportunity to build consensus and capitalize upon a win-win outcome for both groups. Survey item 12 states, “State implemented achievement tests are the best in assessing the performance of a school district.” The median response among legislators was neutrality, while the median response among superintendents was disagreement. The difference between the two groups shows that there is a predisposed tendency to view school success by multiple factors, especially on the part of superintendents.

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