Appendix D: An Analysis of the Impact of High Cost Pupils (Extraordinary
Need Weightings) upon the Distribution of Aid
As noted earlier, the justification for "high cost" adjustments have been extensively described in the finance literature. In addition, both the Rubin Task Force on Equity and Excellence in 1982, and the Salerno Temporary State Commission in 1988 advanced recommendations concerning the need for both a regional cost type of adjustment as well as for added weightings to more appropriately reflect the higher costs of students from disadvantaged backgrounds2.
In this appendix, an evaluation is made of current aid distributions with specific reference to the impact of poverty weightings upon the current aid distribution.
Chart A: Clearly underscores the fact that "high cost" pupils (as measured by children in poverty, Limited English Proficient students, and sparcity pupils), are not randomly distributed across the 10 different wealth deciles. Rather, as district wealth increases, the percentage of district enrollment comprised of high cost pupils in each decile decreases substantially. Note, however, the truly anomalous position of New York City. In the moderate wealth decile in which New York City is situated (the 6th wealth decile), 32.2 percent of the student enrollment is comprised of Extraordinary Need pupils; in New York City, in contrast, the EN pupil percentage is 93 percent almost triple the concentration of high cost students experienced by similar wealth districts.
Chart B: If one assumes that some type of high cost adjustment should be made to take into account children from poverty backgrounds, it is possible to evaluate the difference in State Aid per pupil when such high cost recognition is provided and when it is not. By definition, of course, when high cost pupils are recognized (even at a modest .25 weighting as is the case here), this weighting adds an addition 413,000 pupils to the basic enrollment count of 2.79 million statewide. Thus, the average amount of State Aid per pupil drops from $ 3,720 per pupil to $3,241 per poverty-weighted pupil. However, the magnitude of the average drop (of $479 per pupil), varies directly with concentration of poor children in each decile (seen in Chart A).
Two points are noteworthy. First, because of the higher concentration of poor children in low wealth districts, lower wealth districts are more disadvantaged by aid allocations which provide very limited recognition of such high cost factors. Indeed, the lowest wealth decile experiences an aid "drop" of $871 per pupil, while the wealthiest decile experiences a negligible drop of $31 per pupil. Due to the unusual concentration of students-in- poverty in NYC, its effective Aid "drop" is $660 per pupil more than double the $295 per pupil aid drop in the 6th wealth decile of which it is a member.
Charts C,D,&E: In a variety of recent publications, Allan Odden notes that in a number of states studied, willingness to provide the funding necessary to bring below spending districts "up" to a median or average spending level per pupil, is usually sufficient to ensure "adequacy." In Charts C & D, these spending shortfalls were calculated based on a) a districts resource shortfall from a median spending level of $8,499 per pupil (Chart C), and an average spending level per pupil of $8,765 per pupil (Chart D). In the former case, the total shortfall amounted to $1.31 billion, and in the latter, $1.846 billion.
Charts C & D, however, reflect no weighting differential for poor students. When this weighting differential is taken into account, the cost of bringing low spending (per poverty-weighted pupil) districts up to an average spending level of $7,637 per poverty weighted pupil rise steeply. Indeed, the total shortfall cost is estimated at $2.28 billion. You will note that these costs range from $113 per pupil in the ninth wealth decile (n=1 district), to $1,064 per pupil in the poorest wealth decile. New York City once again stands out as a substantial anomaly due to the "unusually" heavy concentration of high cost poverty pupils in this district ("unusual" since as noted the concentration of poor children in this district is roughly three times greater than in those districts of similar wealth circumstances). In the case of NYC, the shortfall required to bring this district up to the spending target is $1,208 per pupil (vs. $522 per pupil in the 6th wealth decile).
Charts F,G, and H: They depict the "shares" of the overall spending shortfall (from median or average levels of spending per pupil) which are estimated for new York City and the rest of state. In Chart F , for example, NYC accounts for $594 million (or 45.2%) of an estimated $1.313 billion shortfall required to raise below spending districts to a median spending level of $ 8,499 per pupil. In Chart G, this estimate rises to $1.846 billion due to the higher (average) spending target of $8,765 per pupil of which NYC contributes a 47.3 percent share. The most telling story, however, is seen in Chart H. In Chart H, shortfalls are based upon a poverty weighted pupil count and a poverty-weighted spending target (average) of $7,637 per pupil. In this instance, the shortfall increases to $2.28 billion, of which the NYC share is 68.7 percent.
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