The three major variables affecting school funding are the essence of the database: state aid, local taxes, and budget adequacy. The Funding Fairness Index (FFI) combines the three into a single metric to simplify analysis. A negative FFI score means the district is in an unfavorable position from an equity funding perspective, while a positive score indicates the opposite. Greater equity is occurring when FFI scores move toward zero.
- 0 = moving further from zero
- 1 = no change
- 2 = moving closer to zero
The state median scale score is 1.05. Since 1.00 would indicate no change, this demonstrates a small improvement in equity for school districts as a whole from the combined perspective of state aid, local taxes, and budget adequacy. Recall that 73% of the state's school districts and 33 of the 40 legislative districts received additional state aid in FY18. So, this is good news but we have a long way to go before basic funding equity is achieved.
This year's database also includes several spreadsheets sorted by a new variable called Type, which distinguishes districts that have very different characteristics. They are grouped into four types:
- The 25 Non-Operating and Merged districts, which do not function by definition;
- The 21 Vocational-Technical districts, which have a different mission than other districts;
- The 43 Resort districts, which have large seasonal shifts in population. This is the same methodology used by the 2014 Bloustein Center study on municipal consolidation; and
- The 502 Standard districts, which make up the majority of the state.
You can access the database below and see how your school district is doing in terms of funding fairness for the 2017-18 school year.