23 May Which schools get the most money? Indianapolis Public Schools analysis reveals how schools compare

May 23, 2016

By: Dylan Peers McCoy

Source: chalkbeat.org

On paper, Crispus Attucks and Broad Ripple high schools are strikingly similar.

Both are relatively high performing magnet high schools in the Indianapolis Public Schools district.

Both serve a diverse group of students — roughly 70 percent of students in each school are poor enough to qualify for meal assistance and just over 60 percent of students in each school are black.

But there’s one big difference between the two: Money.

Broad Ripple gets a lot more of it than Crispus Attucks does.

According to a preliminary funding analysis conducted by a consultant working for IPS, Broad Ripple gets twice as much funding per student from local, state and federal governments — $11,581 per student — as its fellow Indianapolis magnet. Crispus Attucks gets just $5,630 per student.

Part of that difference can be explained by the higher percentage of students with disabilities at Broad Ripple but it’s also driven by countless other factors like the size of its building, the extra arts programs it offers and years of history in a district that has not paid much attention before to how much money goes to individual schools.

That’s all changing in IPS as the school board seeks to make funding across schools more transparent and fair.

As a first step in that process, it hired a consultant to review for the first time how schools rank in terms of funding.

The results show striking funding disparities across the district.

Superintendent Lewis Ferebee cautions that the data assembled by Boston-based consultants Education Resource Strategies is preliminary and could change before final numbers are confirmed but even this early look shows that schools that should be getting the most money — those with a high percentage of low-income, high-needs students who qualify for more federal dollars — are not consistently coming out on top.

This imbalance has likely existed for years but has been obscured behind budgeting models that grouped funds into categories such as building maintenance or school staff.

Now, it’s an inequity the district is aiming to address.

“We believe that equitable funding is necessary as we think about supporting our students and our families,” Ferebee said.

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