Public School Teachers' Perspectives of Student-Based Budgeting
School funding is one strategy to ensure K–12 public education in the United States is equitable. mAccess to equitable education is paramount to addressing the achievement gap between White affluent Americans and low-income students of color. The perception of inequity in the public school system was apparent before the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka case when segregation in public schools became unconstitutional. School funding models emerged. Under most models, resources are distributed to schools by providing staff and designating money for specific purposes. Student-based budgeting is a phenomenon because K–12 public schools are funded based on the number of students enrolled in a specific school. A set amount of money is earmarked per student. Under the model, additional funds may be given to low-income students, students who have special needs, or students who are English language learners. The principal has authority to allocate dollars for programming which best fits the school’s needs. Literature addressing student-based budgeting from a quantitative context has highlighted educational and financial advantages and disadvantages from a political or administrative perspective. A gap exists regarding the perspectives of Illinois K–12 teachers. The equity theory, developed by John Stacey Adams, framed the course of the qualitative case study. From the literature review, themes emerged including education reform, school leadership, and student achievement. A purposeful random sample of 27 teachers participated in the study. Data collection entailed preliminary surveys, four online focus groups with transcription and member checking, and a questionnaire given after the focus group. Using the survey may benefit the credibility of the study because teachers who were unfamiliar with the budgeting formula were not sought to participate in the focus group. Findings show inequity in low-income schools and schools with low enrollment. The study may benefit educators, students, and lawmakers.