Why does the money not necessarily follow the right students?
The Minimum Foundation Program, or MFP, is the formula for how elementary and high schools get their piece of $3,500,000,000 - that is 3.5 Billion dollars. While the formula is complex, the concept of how the formula creates inequities across schools is simple. Relative to the amount provided for students without disabilities, each student identified with a disability in a traditional public school system brings in 2.5 times as many dollars as a child without a disability. The amount of money taken from traditional public schools and provided to charter schools run by BESE and other school choice programs is determined by a different formula - an average amount of money which is the same amount for every student -regardless if the student has a disability or not.
When there is an imbalance of students with varying levels of need across traditional and certain charter schools or choice programs, whichever school has more than their share of students with needs that cost more is not receiving the funding necessary to cover the costs of the services for the students in their school.
Additional dollars are needed to provide services such as therapies (speech, occupational, Adaptive physical education, behavioral), services (e.g., nursing), devices (e.g., augmentative communication systems, medical equipment, adaptive equipment, etc.) and higher teacher ratios. Of course, no two students with disabilities have the same amount of services, but on average, it costs much more to serve students with disabilities. In today's world of competitive education, it seems necessary to ensure adequate resources are provided to schools based on student need and there should not be financial incentives for schools to avoid serving students with more needs.
Which school systems are not getting adequate funds to serve the students in their schools?
Typically, the imbalance works against the traditional public school system because it does not receive its fair share of funding; however, the funding inequity can work both ways. A charter school wishing to serve a student with a disability may not be receiving an adequate amount of funds needed to provide services to that student. Parents should not have to wonder whether the school received the right amount of funds to serve their student.
To understand the funding imbalance between traditional and charter schools click the link to watch the webinar: Louisiana Accountability and Funding Systems: Impact on Students with Disabilities