State paid $4 billion for 400,974 ‘ghost’ TK-12 students last year

By Around the Web

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(JUST THE NEWS) – As state enrollment continues to decline due to outmigration, falling birthrates, and parents choosing to pull their children out of public school, the number of “ghost” students could continue to rise.

Funding guarantees and enrollment decline stabilization measures mean California is paying for 400,974 “ghost” students who don’t exist, costing the state $4.06 billion in the 2022-2023 school year, according to a report from the libertarian Reason Foundation.

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Study authors Aaron Garth Smith and Christian Barnard examined the cost of so-called “hold harmless” policies that provide funding protections for public schools in the face of declining enrollment. The two main policies used are declining enrollment protections, which allow schools to use prior, higher enrollment numbers to determine funding, and funding guarantees, which provide schools with a minimum level of state financial support regardless of enrollment. Notably, California’s charter schools, which are public schools, do not qualify for “hold harmless” funding.

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