Resource distribution in Texas school districts: an examination of expenditure allocation patterns in two major urban school districts with diverging enrollment

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Barajas, Rene, 1967-

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This study examines expenditure allocation patterns of two Texas school districts that experienced diverging enrollments in relation to each other over eight school years. Expenditure allocations to general and specific operational areas and various student groups are examined in relation to changes in enrollment. In addition, how expenditures per student changed as a result of increasing and decreasing enrollment is explored. Ratio analysis, based on the percentage contribution to total General Fund expenditures, determined the changes in expenditure allocations to operational areas and student groups. These changes are compared to changes in enrollment. Expenditure per student calculations are made using inflation-adjusted data and regression analysis, employing Pearson's r, determines how well enrollment changes explain changes in expenditures per student. Results indicate that increasing and decreasing enrollments had little effect on how the districts allocated general and specific resources as no significant relationships were noted. Resources allocated to basic instructional services, which served the largest number of students, were indicative of the direction of enrollment suggesting that students in districts with increasing enrollment garner more resources. Total expenditures per student showed no correlation in the decreasing enrollment district and a marginally strong positive relationship in the increasing enrollment district. The empirical findings did not support the inverse relationship between enrollment and expenditures per student referenced in the literature. The findings suggest that in addition to enrollment, there are other factors at work that dictate how resources are allocated. In addition to determining these other factors, incorporating the district's federal budgets into the analysis to determine if the inclusion of all available resources would significantly alter the findings of how each district allocated resources as a result of changes in enrollment is warranted.