The Formula Now Used In Following Another Vehicle Is San Francisco Uses Weighed Student Formulas to Track School Needs

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San Francisco Uses Weighed Student Formulas to Track School Needs

What Student formulas do

One of the key features of the WSF is that it allows San Francisco Schools to be more flexible than the previous system, called the “staffing standards” model. With staffing measures, the central office instructed the school centers to spend the sum of their resources in a certain way, through the allocation of staff and the budget of micro-resources. This system gave schools less control over their financial resources. Under the WSF, each school district receives a budget made up of dollars in lieu of positions and decides what staff and non-staff items should be purchased with those dollars. Under this approach, each school has more room to design and implement teaching programs that match the specific characteristics and needs of its students, parents and community. Central administration helps and oversees schools in many important ways, but shares more decisions with principals and local school governing bodies called School Center Councils—people who are most familiar with the needs of their schools.

Grants are also distributed based on the specific needs of each SFUSD student. We all know that different students have different educational needs, which often means educational services at different prices. A student with special educational needs or a student who cannot speak English needs more than a native English speaker without special educational needs. Some schools enroll students from low-income families who, on average, start school at a disadvantage compared to students from middle-class or affluent families. The new formula reflects these needs by distributing funds to specific student characteristics such as grade level, special education needs, needs of English Language Learners (ELL’s), and socioeconomic status.

Finally, WSF distributes basic education resources more evenly to each student in all schools, and all participants are able to see and better understand how resources are allocated and spent in each school. Did you know how much each student in each school received under the old budget system? Did you know that one school received a higher share of public grants than others or did not? WSF makes the largest part of the District’s budget transparent. The public can now see exactly why each school receives the resources it does and that the school is treated like all other schools in the District following the same principles.

What Schools Do

Additional tasks for schools mainly include developing their budgets and school curriculum plans. Each school’s principal and the School Center Council discuss their school’s needs, challenges, and priorities and build a budget accordingly for the upcoming school year. They determine the number of each type of staff they need as well as their non-staff needs. During the year, schools can reconsider their previous decisions by requesting a budget change. This requires continuous evaluation of how the initial plan is working. In short, giving schools more flexibility means more responsibility. But this is a responsibility that will build dialogue and understanding among many members of the community of each school – especially the responsibility to think creatively and in many cases to make different choices than the middle management has previously prepared.

To make this initiative work, principals and institutional committees have sought training and technical assistance. School Center Council members certainly needed information on a number of questions — about developing an academic success plan, financial management, how to involve community groups in decision-making, or simply how to use software to build their budget. The District sees capacity building of principals and School Center Councils as critical to the successful implementation of WSF and provides training and technical support vehicles for each step of the WSF process. Additional training and outreach to School Center Councils will continue to be provided and developed in the future.

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