HONOLULU - The Committee on Weights (COW) IX recommendations for increases to the Weighted Student Formula (WSF), which directs funds to schools, was approved today by the Hawaii State Board of Education. This action sets the tone for the Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) as it continues to formulate its budget for the upcoming Fiscal Year.
“Our goal as a committee was to develop a formula that would assist schools in closing the achievement gap,” stated Suzanne Mulcahy, Assistant Superintendent, Office of Curriculum, Instruction and Student Support. “Among the various issues discussed, there was a great concern over our English Language Learner (ELL) students meeting higher standards. The Board’s unanimous support of our recommendations sends a clear message that all students deserve necessary resources to excel in school.”
COW IX key findings and recommendations:
- Increase base funding for the five K-12 combination schools by $148,024. A recommendation to offset those costs by sourcing $750,000 from WSF funds set in reserve was suggested so as not to reduce the amount distributed to all schools.
- Increase by $10 million the current amount of WSF funds distributed to schools for students determined to require ELL program support.
- Increase overall WSF allocation by 2 percent, or $16.6 million, to address inflationary pressures on schools.
The COW IX met five times between March 2015 and July 2015. Feedback collected from Complex Area principal meetings statewide used in COW IX’s deliberations indicated an overall interest in keeping several expenses centrally managed, including utilities, transportation, substitute teachers and food service. Broadly, concern was expressed that school funding is insufficient overall.
The COW IX recommendations will be formally submitted in HIDOE’s FY17 supplemental budget request to the Board of Education in October, for consideration at the 2016 legislative session. The full COW IX report and four workgroup reports can be viewed here: http://bit.ly/COWFIC15
The Weighted Student Formula is Hawaii’s school-funding mechanism that allocates dollars based on various learning characteristics (includes economically disadvantaged, class size, gifted and talented, ELL, transiency). Students with more needs receive more resources, which follow the students as they move among schools. WSF also includes non-weighted school characteristics based on school type (multitrack, combination schools, etc.). BOE action on this recommendation will allow principals to begin developing their Academic Plan and Financial Plan for the next academic year, working in conjunction with their School Community Councils.
The Committee on Weights is a group of educators and community members that convenes during the spring and summer to develop revisions to fine-tune the WSF, which are delivered to the Board of Education for approval. COW IX’s 16 members included eight principals, two teachers, two school administrative services assistants, one complex area business manager (CABM), one registrar, one complex area superintendent (CAS), and one community member. The 2015 meeting agendas and minutes are posted on the DOE website: http://bit.ly/DOEWSF