Alternatives in California School Finance.

by Stephen M. Barro

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An overview of policy options for raising and allocating public school funds. There are major disparities in spending and taxing among California school districts. Available resources per pupil bear little relationship to the willingness of local communities to support education or the magnitude of the educational task to be performed. The state school finance system forces districts to rely on local property tax bases for all support in excess of an inadequate, state-guaranteed minimum. The system also neglects differences in pupils' educational needs. Reform alternatives include (1) redistributing funds by changing state aid formulas and possibly instituting a statewide property tax; (2) introducing a variable matching formula to implement a policy of equal support for equal tax effort; and (3) full state financing to equalize per-pupil support, relative to need, in all districts. Changes in the property tax system or a shift to other tax sources should also be considered. 118 pp. Ref.

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