Welcome to Hall Pass. This newsletter keeps you plugged into the conversations driving school board politics and governance. Each week, we bring you a roundup of the latest on school board elections, along with sharp commentary and research from across the political spectrum on the issues confronting school boards in the country’s 14,000 school districts. We’ll also bring you the latest on school board elections and recall efforts, including candidate filing deadlines and election results.
In today’s edition, you’ll find:
- On the issues: The debate over school safety and how to prevent school shootings
- School board filing deadlines, election results, and recall certifications
- How states fund public schools
- Extracurricular: links from around the web
- Candidate Connection survey
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On the issues
In this section, we curate reporting, analysis, and commentary on the issues school board members deliberate when they set out to offer the best education possible in their district.
The debate over armed safety officers in schools
Following the school shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas, where 19 students and two teachers were shot and killed, politicians and commentators have proposed policies they say would make schools safer. Today, we look at the debate over proposals to post police or safety officers on school campuses at all times.
David Feliciano writes trained law enforcement officers could have prevented the Sandy Hook and Robb Elementary shootings if they had been stationed at the schools. Feliciano says Democrats and Republicans are unlikely to agree on legislation restricting gun purchases but they might agree to federally fund armed safety officers for all schools.
Daniel Siegel writes additional security would not reduce school shootings. Siegel says posting police officers at schools would make schools feel like prisons and are insufficient substitutes for gun purchasing restrictions and additional funding for school counselors to meet mental health needs.
Opinion: As a superintendent and father, I believe there’s a simple solution to improve school safety | David Feliciano, The San Diego Union Tribune
“The best and simplest response [to school shootings], it seems to me, is to federally fund and deploy a school safety law enforcement officer to every public school in the U.S. An armed police officer is the one thing that could have made a tangible difference and possibly prevented the shootings at Sandy Hook and Robb elementary schools. The delayed police response at Robb Elementary only reinforces this point. More children may have died because law enforcement failed to engage the attacker in time. The attack ended when the police took action. When your house is on fire, you don’t set out to buy smoke detectors and upgrade your electrical systems. Rather, you get a fire hose and extinguish the flames. … A thoughtful and fully funded partnership with law enforcement is our best defense against the next school shooting. This, it seems to me, is something Democrats and Republicans could get behind.”
Opinion: ‘Hardening’ elementary schools isn’t the solution | Daniel Siegel, Detroit Free Press
“This time, rather than urging inaction in the wake of the senseless murders of 19 children and two teachers at Robb Elementary School, it seems Second Amendment absolutists would prefer actions that would make our schools look even more like prisons, with more cops, more rules and more guns. … Instead of passing sensible gun reforms, these elected officials would prefer to further militarize our schools. … More police officers, armed teachers and prison-inspired reforms are not effective protection against outside intruders. After all, the officers who fired their weapons at the 18-year-old suspect before he entered Robb Elementary School on Tuesday failed to stop him. How many more good guys with guns would we need to protect every public school in Texas? We need more school counselors to help meet mental health needs, more training for school teachers and staff on how to spot red flags, and better lockdown drills and procedures to keep students safe.”
School board update: filing deadlines, election results, and recall certifications
Ballotpedia has historically covered school board elections in about 500 of the country’s largest districts. We’re gradually expanding the number we cover with our eye on all of the roughly 14,000 districts with elected school boards.
Election results from the past week
Districts in our scope in California held elections on June 7. Click the links below to see results.
- Long Beach Unified School District (primary)
- Los Angeles Unified School District (primary)
- San Diego Unified School District (primary)
- Compton Unified School District (general)
- Twin Rivers Unified School District (general)
Upcoming school board elections
Districts in Nevada are holding primaries on June 14. Districts in Texas are holding general runoff elections June 18. Districts in Georgia and Alabama are holding general and primary runoff elections on June 21. Districts in Maryland are holding primaries July 19.
We’re covering the following school board elections on June 14.
We’re covering general runoff elections in the following districts on June 18.
- Richardson Independent School District
- Mansfield Independent School District
- Fort Worth Independent School District
We’re covering general runoff elections in the following districts on June 21.
- DeKalb County School District
- Gwinnett County Public Schools
- Cherokee County School District
- Savannah-Chatham County Public School System
We’re covering general runoff elections in the following districts on June 21.
We’re covering the following school board elections on July 19.
- Baltimore County Public Schools
- Cecil County Public Schools
- Frederick County Public Schools
- Harford County Public Schools
- Howard County Public Schools
- Montgomery County Public Schools
- Prince George’s County Public Schools
School board candidates per seat up for election
Since 2018, we’ve tracked the ratio of school board candidates to seats up for election within our coverage scope. Greater awareness of issues or conflicts around school board governance can result in more candidates running for each office. Click here to see historical data on this subject.
This year, 2.2 candidates are running for each seat in the 896 school board races we are covering in districts where the filing deadline has passed. The 2.2 candidates per seat is 12.6% more than in 2020.
How states fund public schools: an introduction
Public schools receive funding from a combination of federal, state, and local governments. According to the U.S. Department of Education, state governments provided about half of all school funding in the 2018-19 school year. How states allocate funding to schools varies. Today, we’re looking at the primary funding models states use to fund schools. Primary funding models cover the basic costs of education, like teacher salaries.
According to an October 2021 report by the Education Commission of the States (ECS), a nonpartisan organization that researches state-level education policy, most states use one of two approaches for determining the majority of school funding.
The first, called a student-based foundation model, provides school districts with a base amount of funding per student. The amount is typically defined in state law. The second, known as a resource-based allocation model, provides funding based on the costs of purchasing educational material and hiring teachers and staff for a given number of students. The ECS notes that, under the resource-based allocation model, resources are “often based on a ratio of students to staffing.”
In 2021, 33 states and the District of Columbia used a student-based foundation model to allocate school spending. Ten states used a resource-based allocation model.
In many cases, states that use the student-based foundation model provide districts with a minimum amount of funding per student. For example, Alaska’s base amount in the 2021-22 school year is $5,930. In California, the base amount is determined by grade level. The amount starts at $8,503 for students in kindergarten through third grade and goes up from there.
Not all states use a general funding formula that falls neatly into one category or the other. Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Mississippi, and Maine fund schools using approaches that blend the student-based foundation model and the resource-based allocation model. Vermont and Wisconsin use a guaranteed tax base model. In this model, states use a formula to help equalize funding between districts with low and high property tax revenue.
On top of the primary funding models, states also use a variety of mechanisms for allocating additional funding to categories of students or schools, such as special education students or geographically isolated schools.
Click here to read more about public school funding formulas in the states.
Extracurricular: education news from around the web
This section contains links to recent education-related articles from around the internet. If you know of a story we should be reading, reply to this email to share it with us!
- A Wake-Up Call for Public Education | Bloomberg
- How many of your teachers want to quit? Depends what state you’re in | District Administration
- Meet the Metaverse | Education Next
Take our Candidate Connection survey to reach voters in your district
Everyone deserves to know their candidates. However, we know it can be hard for voters to find information about their candidates, especially for local offices such as school boards. That’s why we created Candidate Connection—a survey designed to help candidates tell voters about their campaigns, their issues, and so much more.
In the 2020 election cycle, 4,745 candidates completed the survey.
If you’re a school board candidate or incumbent, click here to take the survey.
The survey contains over 30 questions, and you can choose the ones you feel will best represent your views to voters. If you complete the survey, a box with your answers will display on your Ballotpedia profile. Your responses will also populate the information that appears in our mobile app, My Vote Ballotpedia.
And if you’re not running for school board, but there is an election in your community this year, share the link with the candidates and urge them to take the survey!