University of Arkansas Study: Eliminating or Reducing Louisiana Scholarship Program Funding Will Increase Costs for School Districts
A newly released study by researchers at the University of Arkansas has concluded that eliminating the Louisiana Scholarship Program as a way to improve the financial situation of the Louisiana Department of Education budget would likely lead to an overall cost increase for individual school districts.
The study released by the School Choice Demonstration Project (SCDP) at the University of Arkansas found the net fiscal impact on the Louisiana Department of Education budget would likely be an overall cost increase. The study authors, Corey A. DeAngelis and Julie R. Trivitt, Ph.D., found that school districts would receive additional revenue from the state for affected students, but would also incur additional costs to educate these students.
“We conclude that the overall fiscal impact on districts will be negative; in other words, the overall additional variable costs incurred by the districts will be greater than the overall additional funding provided to the districts,” they said.
“In fact, we find that only 2 to 7 of the 69 school districts would benefit from the elimination of the program. For the affected districts, the average outcome would be a financial loss of about $1,500 per returning voucher student in 2016.”
The study also examined the impact of placing 442 students on a wait list after their scholarship awards were not honored when Governor John Bel Edwards chose not to fully fund the Louisiana Scholarship Program. “Louisiana is paying $3.22 million in additional Level 1 and 2 funding to avoid paying $2.61 million in voucher expenses, which is a net increase in state overall education expenditures of more than $600,000,” researchers noted.
Ann Duplessis, president of the Louisiana Federation for Children, said it is clear there are no financial benefits when the Louisiana Scholarship Program is underfunded.
“Since this program saves taxpayers money and the legislature will need to appropriate more funding to return these students to the local public schools, which will lead to increase costs to the local district; the legislature should instead provide the funding for the scholarship program to allow parents to choose schools they believe will best educate their children,” Duplessis added.
- If the Louisiana Scholarship Program is eliminated, the overall additional variable costs incurred by the districts will be greater than the overall additional funding provided to the districts.
- For the affected districts, the average outcome would be a financial loss of about $1,500 per returning voucher student in 2016.
- By wait-listing 442 students, Louisiana would pay $3.22 million in additional Level 1 and 2 funding to avoid paying $2.61 million in voucher expenses.
The School Choice Demonstration Project, based at the University of Arkansas, is directed by Patrick J. Wolf, holder of the Twenty-First Century Chair in School Choice. Several research reports over the past year have examined the effects of the Louisiana Scholarship Program on the achievement and non-cognitive skills of scholarship recipients, broader effects on school segregation and the fiscal impact on schools. The project’s evaluation is the first to examine such a wide range of outcomes, or to consider the effects over the first two years of this specific program.
Corey DeAngelis, a U of A student in the education policy doctoral program who is a Distinguished Doctoral Fellow, and Julie Trivitt, Ph.D., a clinical assistant professor of economics, co-wrote the latest paper titled “Squeezing the Public School Districts: The Fiscal Effects of Eliminating the Louisiana Scholarship Program.”