The Weighted Student Formula Determines School Funding

HONOLULU (KHNL) - Two years ago the state changed the way public schools receive their money. It's been the source of both confusion and debate.

The purpose of this funding formula is to make sure each school has the money necessary to take care of each student s needs, but some have complained too much money is shifting around between schools.

Money - the lifeblood of any school. The method used to determine how much each of Hawaii's public schools receives is called the weighted student formula.

Here is how it works: every student enrolled at a school is worth a certain amount of money to that school's budget. If a student has special needs such as a disability or speaks English as a second language - they are assigned even more money.

In theory - the formula is designed make sure each school receives enough money to provide for every student's needs. In practice, it has run into some challenges. Some schools have complained the formula has actually reduced their budgets, forcing them to consider cutting programs and personnel. This year the state legislature appropriated an additional 20 million dollars to help the public schools cover those shortfalls.

The school board recently modified the formula, implementing a 15 percent adjustment rate. That means ifa school was supposed to lose $100,000 under theformula it would only lose $15,000.

The formula remains a work in progress. The state Department of Education says it is still working on improvements to make sure every school receives its fair share. The DOE says it could recommend more changes as it continues to evaluate the weighted student formula.