All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Peter A Jones

Advisory Committee Members

Wendy Gunther-Canada

Nevbahar Ertas

Document Type

Thesis

Date of Award

2018

Degree Name by School

Master of Public Administration (MPA) College of Arts and Sciences

Abstract

This is the first national analysis of school district secessions that predicts which kind of school districts are likely to have a secession attempt and measures the impact of secession on the per-pupil revenue of the district left behind. Data on school district secessions was limited prior to EdBuild’s 2017 report, Fractured. This thesis combines data from the National Center for Education Statistics with EdBuild’s data on secessions. Using a linear probability model, I find that larger districts in urban areas with more disadvantaged students receiving free and reduced-price lunch are more likely to experience a secession attempt. I then use a difference-in-difference model to predict the per-pupil revenue impact of secession on the district left behind. On average, school districts that experience a secession attempt have $1,000 less in per-pupil revenue than school districts with no attempt. After the secession, the school district left behind sees a further decline in revenue by over $1,000 per-pupil. While 28 states have policies for school district secession, these procedures vary in permissiveness. Only 9 states require a fiscal impact assessment, and only 6 states require a racial and socioeconomic impact assessment. This is surprising since the literature is replete with examples of how school district fragmentation is contributing to resegregation and economic inequality. Indeed, after a wave of school district consolidations, from 128,000 school districts in 1930 to 16,000 by 1980, we are now seeing a new trend, a fragmentation drip, as communities and municipalities seek local control of their schools. Most state funding formulas are programmatically designed to provide equity in education funding, but my results suggest that state policies are failing to deliver on equity goals.

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