The school funding lawsuit filed by Hamilton Southeastern and two
other Indiana school districts is renewing the weak cries of "the
money should follow the student".
"In the end, the result is that suburban schools don't get enough to
keep up with extraordinary growth, while more per pupil is funneled to
urban/rural schools where students need extra support," opines the
Evansville Courier & Press.
In reality, the students have followed the money.
That "extraordinary growth" the editorial noted is fueled by public investment in suburban schools. Young families with the means to move out of urban areas and rural areas buy homes in new housing developments, where the school buildings are attractive and state-of-the art.
As more families move to suburban school districts, more suburban classrooms are needed. There are more costs, too -- new roads to accommodate the new housing subdivisions, water and sanitary sewage service, public safety services.
Retired Indiana University economist Morton Marcus once told me that one of the biggest mistakes the state ever made was to begin paying for school bus transportation. That allowed families to leave neighborhood schools and move out to far-flung suburban districts. The effect was to chip away the tax base for older schools and fuel that "extraordinary growth" of suburban schools.
It's hard to blame parents for wanting bright and shiny new schools for their kids, but don't expect an end to school funding inequities until lawmakers address both the operating and capital project sides of the equation.