This study explores within-district fiscal resource allocation across elementary schools in Texas and Ohio large city school districts and in their surrounding metropolitan areas. Specifically, I ask whether districts widely reported as achieving greater resource equity through adoption of Weighted Student Funding (WSF) have in fact done so. I compare Houston Independent School District (a WSF district) to other large Texas cities and Cincinnati (also using WSF) to other large Ohio cities. Using a conventional expenditure function approach, I evaluate the sensitivity of elementary school budgets to special education populations, poverty rates, and school size. Next, I estimate two-stage least squares cost functions across schools to evaluate the relative costs of achieving average outcomes with respect to varied poverty rates within and across school districts within metropolitan areas. I use these estimates to evaluate whether urban core schools on average spend sufficient resources to compete with neighboring schools in other districts in the same Core Based Statistical Area. I find first that widely reported WSF success stories provide no more predictable funding with respect to student needs than other large urban districts in the same state. I also find that in some cases, resource levels in urban core elementary schools are relatively insufficient for competing with schools in neighboring districts to achieve comparable outcomes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Cost indices
- Education finance
- Educational equity (finance)