The issue with net school spending is when a district fails to fund that net school spending at 100%. Communities can actually 'under-fund' the net school spending requirement to 95% but would need to pay additional 5% the following fiscal year. I suppose there are instances where an unintentional shortfall can be made up the following year but what happens when the community is struggling to hit these requirements to begin with and fall short. How does a struggling community pay 5% OVER what it needs to fund to reach 100% because of a carry over amount? And really what good does it do to pay that 5% (or whatever that shortfall amount is) the following year?
To me, this is a little bit like being required to keep your house at a 65 degrees during the winter but because of unforeseen expenses and maybe some budgeting you end up running the thermostat a few degrees cooler. The following winter you're told you need to keep the temperature at 68 degrees to hit the 65 degree requirement plus the shortfall from the previous year. Heck, if you had trouble heating the house at 65 degrees can you afford 68? And will running the thermostat at 68 degrees this winter really do anything to make the house warmer last winter? Of course not. So my concern is twofold, if you struggled to meet your requirements the previous year is it foolish to think you're going to be able to hit them and shortfall the following year? And if you do pay the shortfall forward how does that really help the student who in 4th grade may have been short changed? I just don't believe adding money the following year is going to really make up for the shortfall the year before.
The other issue with net school spending is there are expenses that we have to pay toward a school department that don't count toward that formula. I'm not an expert but I'm pretty sure health insurance is one of those costs. This is a little bit like buying a bunch of stuff off of Amazon and you're hoping to qualify for free shipping but you have a bunch of purchases that don't count toward "Super Saver Shipping". So your total bill is over the amount but you still need to come up with more money to hit the requirement! With something like health insurance cities and towns have been struggling for years with rising health insurance costs, meaning the total spending for the school department is increasing but it doesn't effect the bottom line for net school spending.
Lefty's View: I really do understand the need to ensure that communities are properly funding their educational system. This is especially true when so much of your local school districts money comes from state funding. However, what that net school spending amount represents as far as a direct impact to the classroom is just not clear. Net school spending does not include health insurance and I believe other real school department costs that the community has to fund. What does it include? When we fund at 95% what impact does that have on the classroom? Net school spending should either represent every school expense or the amount that directly impacts a student's education. If it goes to the amount that directly impacts a student's education we shouldn't be allowed to under-fund it. If it doesn't than a waiver may be appropriate or perhaps, paying back the shortfall over the course of a few years to help ease the financial burden.