Date of Award

1995

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Education

First Advisor

Terry G. Geske

Abstract

The primary issues this study addressed were special education costs and equity of special education per-pupil revenues among Louisiana's sixty-six school districts. Actual data from 1980 to 1992 were examined and four special education finance models were developed which addressed these issues. Average annual rates of increase in mean per-pupil revenues for regular education and special education were examined to determine the increase in cost of special education versus regular education. Findings indicated special education per-pupil revenues increased at four times the rate of regular education per-pupil revenues for the period examined. Special education per-pupil revenues were examined to determine whether or not per-pupil revenue disparities increased or decreased. The Range (R), Standard Deviation (SD), Coefficient of Variation (CV), Federal Range Ratio (FRR), and McLoone Index (MI), indicated increased disparity in special education per-pupil revenues from 1980 to 1992. These measures also indicated the largest increases in per-pupil revenue disparity occurred from 1990 to 1992. During this period Louisiana utilized a "placeholder" formula until a new formula could be developed. Four special education finance models were developed which used pupil weighting schemes and addressed equity issues in regard to special education costs, per-pupil revenues, and amount of per-pupil revenue for mild and severe disabilities. Findings in regard to equity were mixed according to the perspective of the measure used. All measures with the exception of the McLoone Index indicated one weight not linked to local effort to be the most equitable model. The McLoone Index indicated two weights decreased per-pupil revenue disparity in the lower half of the distribution. Relationships between district fiscal capacity, special education enrollments, and special education per-pupil revenues were examined. Two alternative definitions of district fiscal capacity were used. When district fiscal capacity was defined using per-capita income, relationships were noted among all variables in 1992. When district fiscal capacity was defined using the Representative Tax System Index which Louisiana now uses, relationships between these variables no longer existed. Finally, enrollments of five mild disabilities were examined. Large enrollment increases in all disabilities were noted with the exception of Speech Impaired. Findings indicated lack of clarity in the definition of disabilities coupled with many different interpretations of these definitions contributed to considerable variability in enrollments across districts.

Pages

184

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