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Child-Centered Budgeting: A Solution for Education Funding Reform

June 23, 2008

Child-Centered Budgeting: A Solution for Education Funding Reform

This week, State Education Superintendent Jim Rex, in his annual State of Education speech, discussed the need for education reform, calling on educators to contact lawmakers about the need for K-12 funding reform.

South Carolina school funding is a complex structure of overlapping revenue sources and strict, centrally defined programmatic expenditures.  Currently, the state uses a formula developed over 31 years ago.

It is clearly time for reform in the South Carolina K-12 school system.  Instead of giving money to local school districts through a range of different formulas and programmatic allotments, South Carolina should adopt a single and universal formula for K-12 spending.

The state has organized task forces to research and recommend equitable funding methods for all public schools regardless of property taxes.  An effective method for equitable funding would be to let the money follow the child.   It would also allow taxpayers to know how their money is used for education.

SCPC retained top national experts on student funding to analyze South Carolina’s funding method.  The report provides recommendations for formula reforms.  The report can be found on SCPC website at:

In “Focus on the Student: Five Steps to Revitalize K-12 Education Across South Carolina,” SCPC identified the need for a new funding formula as a major area of reform; stating that South Carolina should develop a single funding formula that is tied to the child rather than the institution he or she attends.  Focus on the Student specifically found that:

  • The most equitable and empowering approach would be a weighted student formula that allows for adjustments according to a child’s particular circumstance and characteristics, called Child-Centered Budgeting

  • Child-Centered Budgeting means freedom for districts and schools to design the most appropriate and effective educational strategies for their students

  • Schools would receive funding based on the number and make up of their student population

  • As a child moves from one school to the next, to a charter or magnet school, or between districts, all the money designated for his/her education would follow

  • Consolidating funding sources and categories will also give district level administrators an enormous range of choices while fostering a student-first mentality

Even though we spend over $10,000 per student from all sources, there has been no correlating improvement in student achievement.  To ensure that the focus of our efforts is on promoting educational accomplishment and meeting accountability standards, South Carolina should embrace a single, simple non-politicized formula for funding public education—Child Centered Budgeting.

Nothing in the foregoing should be construed as an attempt to aid or hinder passage of any legislation.

Copyright 2008. South Carolina Policy Council Education Foundation, 1323 Pendleton Street, Columbia, South Carolina 29201.

Visit the Policy Council online at

2 Comments leave one →
  1. edbooked permalink
    June 23, 2008 4:03 pm

    Appopriate child-centered budgeting would provide funding for each student, regardless of the place where their education is received. This would include private, parochial, and home school instruction opportunities. Such a solution would allow parents, not the government, to decide where the most appropriate education for their children might be received. It is inappropriate for public, tax-paid, funds to be denied to students enrolled in private, versus public schools. Were all those students currently attending private and parochial schools suddenly to attend public schools, the state’s resources to handle the volume would be woefully insufficient. Accordingly, sound budget appropriation planning should include funding for all students, regardless of where they choose to receive such education. This, and may other concerns, are discussed in the novel, The Twilight’s Last Gleaming On Public Education, a portion of which may be viewed online by contacting the publisher at, clicking on their Bookstore link, then Searching by title. The author constructs an intriguing, socially relevant, and enlighetning story, which possesses many of the elements commonly found in school systems throughout the United States. This is must reading for parents and grand-parents of school aged children, as well as students enrolled in schools of education. Check it out for yourself.

  2. July 19, 2013 12:24 pm

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