Differences in the cost of living and the general attractiveness of communities lead to significant, regional differences in the prices school districts must pay for their most important resource – people. According to the most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics, labor costs differ by more than 50% from the lowest-cost district to the highest-cost district within California, Florida, New York, Texas, and West Virginia. Furthermore, all states but Hawaii and Rhode Island face at least a 7.7% internal differential in labor cost. Most states fail to account for such cost differences in their school finance formulas, leading to inequitable differences in school district purchasing power. This chapter compares and contrasts the various strategies states use to make geographic cost adjustments to their school funding formula, describes the implications of geographic adjustment for interstate and intrastate measures of school finance equity (and corresponding litigation), and discusses the impact that such adjustments could have on the distribution of federal aid for economically disadvantaged students under Title 1 of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.
Taylor, L.L. (2015), "When Equality is not Equity: Regional Cost Differences and the Real Allocation of Educational Resources", Legal Frontiers in Education: Complex Law Issues for Leaders, Policymakers and Policy Implementers (Advances in Educational Administration, Vol. 24), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, pp. 247-266. https://doi.org/10.1108/S1479-366020150000024040Download as .RIS
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