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University of Southern Maine


CEPARE, EPS, K-12 School Funding, Income Impact

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A key feature of K‐12 school funding formulas is establishing an ability‐to‐pay provision in the formula. With the exception of Hawaii, all states share the funding of their K‐12 school system between the State and local communities. And all school formulas use some mechanism to determine the ability of a local community to pay its equitable share of the costs of education. For Maine, as well as a majority of other states, local property wealth is used to determine ability‐to‐pay. The theory is that communities with higher property wealth are more wealthy communities, and, thus, more able to pay for the costs of their local school system. In contrast, communities with lower property wealth are considered to be less wealthy communities, less able to pay for the costs of their local school system, and, thus, eligible for more state aid. This report presents an analysis of three alternative strategies for defining ability‐ to‐pay in Maine, all three of which add income into the calculation of ability‐to‐pay. In Spring 2009 the Joint Standing Committee for Education and Cultural Affairs of the Maine Legislature approved a multi‐faceted research plan for the review of Maine’s school funding formula.

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