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Knowledge is Key: Know Your Numbers


Alita Zuber

on 25 July 2016

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Transcript of Knowledge is Key: Know Your Numbers

Build a
case for increased funding for Ossining Schools...tell our unique story!

Let your tax payers know that they are bearing the brunt of the costs to educate students if the State is not contributing its fair share?
Have you analyzed the Adjusted Gross Income and Property Valuations in your school district?
These factors are often used to calculate how much the community can afford to pay for education and how much the State should pick up.
Typically these students at funded at a higher rate; confirm this is occurring in your school district.
The Tale of 2 Districts
Illustrative Chart
Where do I start?
State Aid Formula(s)
Violent Incidents/Accidents
English Language Learners
Poverty Indicators
Regional Cost Factors
Have budget cuts caused you to reduce security aides/guards? Is there an increase in the number of student accidents?
Do enrollment projections justify the need for additional funding?

If there has been no change in your enrollment then it would be best to identify increases in student need or decreasing resources due to failed budgets, etc.?
Graduation Rates
Know Your Numbers
This workshop will help education finance leaders use data to advocate for optimum state financing for their school district.
Presenter: Alita McCoy Zuber
Assistant Superintendent for Business,
Ossining UFSD, Ossining, NY
Identify data that dramatically illustrates the need for increased funding in a succinct yet convincing way.
Identify demographics that help build the case:
Poverty Measures
Student Outcomes
Dollars per Pupil
Regional Factors
Has there been an increase in the number of students living in poverty? Are there more students eligible for free and reduced price lunch? Do you have more homeless children now than in years past? These children often need additional services; are you receiving more dollars per pupil for these students?
Homeless Children
High Free/Reduced Price Lunch averages should result in additional funding and increase eligibility for competitive grants. Is your district qualifying for competitive grants, if not, why?
If Adjusted Gross Income; property values and budget vote approval rates are declining then use this information to show how difficult it is becoming to get voters to approve school district budgets.
Find correlations, i.e.; argue that graduation rates are declining due to reduction in funding levels?
Are graduation rates or test scores by group or cohort declining? Have they declined as funding has declined? Are homeless, ELL or other at-risk youth graduation rates lower than those of their counterparts?
Although it can be like learning ROCKET SCIENCE, learn your State's funding formula(s)! This will help in your discussions with legislators that may not understand the State Aid formulas.
Brag about any savings or efficiencies you have made to reduce expenses.
Highlight hard cuts the district had to make due to lack of funding.
How old is the data that is being used in your State's Aid formula?For example, in New York the State is using seven (7) year old to determine per pupil funding levels. A lot has changed in Ossining over the past 7 years!
Is your District an outlier in the region, i.e.; poorer district in a wealthier county? Does your state consider the region your district is located when making funding decisions?
Regional Cost Factors
The quality of the data source will inevitably be scrutinized....
Psst.....Only use the State's own database or the district's externally audited data
Encourage parents to meet with local legislators. Equip them with simple discussion points to keep the messaging consistent.
Be prepared to offer suggestions to legislators, advocacy organizations, etc for formula changes or funding strategies. Hold harmless provisions should also be considered.
Other Important things to Remember
Age of Data
Quality of Data
Data Source
Develop visuals that help tell a compelling story i.e.; graphs, charts, tables, handouts etc.
The Ossining Union Free
School District Case
The largest New York State Aid Category for school districts is called Foundation Aid (FA). It is a per pupil dollar amount determined by enrollment, student need and a community's ability to pay for a quality education.
New York State Aid:
Ossining UFSD is a rapidly growing, culturally diverse, Urban-Suburban School District located 25 miles outside of New York City with approximately 5,000 students of which over 50% are eligible for free and reduced price lunch (FRPL).
Ossining is located in Westchester County, which is the fifth wealthiest County in New York State.

Its best-known residents are former U.S. president Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Clinton. Other residents include Martha Stewart, Ralph Lauren, Ryan Reynolds, David Letterman, Richard Gere and Michael Douglas.
English Language Learners need more resources and can be more expensive to educate. Are the number of ELL students increasing or decreasing?

State Aid should be higher for these students. Are you receiving more dollars per pupil for these students?
The Tale of Two Districts
Build credibility with experts.
Create a sense of urgency.
Educate the community.
Enlist Budget Advisory Council members.
Contact Legislators.
Full transcript